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article image8 p.m. Update: Hurricane Joaquin now a Category 2 storm

By Karen Graham     Sep 30, 2015 in Environment
The latest observations from the National Hurricane Center at 8 p.m. EDT shows Hurricane Joaquin, now with sustained winds of 105 mph, and a min. pressure of 954 mb. moving southwest at 7 mph. continuing to gain strength.
The latest update from the National Hurricane Center at 8 p.m. EDT shows Joaquin continuing to gain strength as it stays on path to eventually turn northward.
The discussion of the latest forecast says: A turn toward the northwest and north is forecast Thursday night or Friday. The center of Joaquin is expected to move near or over portions of the central Bahamas tonight and Thursday, and be near or over portions of the Northwestern Bahamas Thursday night or Friday.
The 5 p.m. EDT advisory shows Joaquin moving southwestward toward the central Bahamas, with sustained winds of 85 mph. and a minimum pressure of 967 mb. By the time the system makes its turn northward up the East coast, it is expected to become a Category 3 hurricane.
Hurricane warnings have been issued for the Central Bahamas, and heavy surf, along with strong winds, drenching squalls and flash flooding is possible. Over 10,000 people live in Joaquin's path, and five to 20 inches of rain are forecast for the central region through Friday, with lesser amounts in other areas.
CNN passed on a statement for the Bahamas from the national Hurricane Center: "Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion."
Storm surge is another danger from Joaquin. Water levels are expected to be four feet higher than normal tidal levels along the Bahamas coast. Those same storm surges are expected to impact the southeastern coast of the U.S,. by Friday morning, creating dangerous rip currents.
Will Joaquin hit the U.S. or veer out to sea?
There are now two possible scenarios for Joaquin's trajectory at this time. It will depend on which course the hurricane takes that could determine the level of damage. By Saturday, the storm could become a category 3 with winds of 115 mph, but will weaken shortly after that to a category 2 as it continues its northward trek.
The most likely scenario is for Joaquin to continue westward with a possible landfall between North Carolina and southern New Jersey on Sunday. It will depend on exactly where the hurricane makes landfall that will define the worst conditions, as far as winds and flooding, reports AccuWeather.
Should Joaquin make landfall in northeastern North Carolina, things could get very messy, especially over the Delmarva Peninsula. Heavy rains, winds, and coastal flooding could impact the Chesapeake Bay, including Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland.
Should Joaquin track into the Delmarva Peninsula, very rough conditions could be expected from Delaware to New Jersey, including areas westward through the Delaware Bay region, including Cape May, New Jersey, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and Philadelphia. Think of Hurricane Irene in August 2011, or worse.
The least likely path, and one that would be best, would be for Joaquin to stay at sea and avoid any landfall. At this point in time, though, people along the Eastern coast, from North Carolina to southern New England should be preparing for hurricane conditions, including heavy winds and flooding.
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