Joaquin is now classified as a “major hurricane,” according to the most recent bulletin from the National Hurricane Center. The storm’s “maximum sustained winds are near 120 mph (195 km/h) with higher gusts. Joaquin is a category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Some strengthening is forecast in the next day or so, with some fluctuations in intensity possible on Friday.
“Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 35 miles (55 km) from the center and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 140 miles (220 km). The estimated minimum central pressure is 948 mb (27.99 inches).”
The NHC noted that “hurricane conditions are expected to continue in portions of the central Bahamas through Friday,” and will move toward the northwestern Bahamas on Friday. In addition to the strong winds Joaquin is expected to cause significant storm surges with levels more than “5 to 8 feet above normal tide levels.”
Heavy rainfall is also forecast throughout the region with up to 20 inches possible and 5 to 10 inches expected, which could produce “life-threatening flash floods.”
Although Joaquin’s forward motion remains somewhat unclear, the NHC said a “turn toward the west-northwest is forecast tonight, followed by a turn toward the north and an increase in forward speed on Friday.”
The 5-day forecast map, which indicates the probable future movement of the storm, is basically unchanged from yesterday’s bulletin. It indicates that Joaquin could come ashore in North Carolina as early as early as Monday morning. However, it also indicates that it could move out over the Atlantic in a northerly direction, which would spare most of the U.S. eastern seaboard.
Source: National Hurricane Center
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