By Bob Turk


MIAMI (AP/WJZ) — A hurricane warning has been issued for the central Bahamas as now category 3 hurricane Joaquin approaches.

UPDATE: Wednesday, 10:30 p.m. :

A strengthening Hurricane Joaquin approached the central islands of the Bahamas on Wednesday evening, following a projected track that would take it near the U.S. East Coast by the weekend.

Maximum sustained winds reached 105 mph (165 kph) and extended 35 miles (55 kilometers) from the center of the storm over the Atlantic Ocean, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami, which predicted Joaquin would develop into a major hurricane in the coming days.

Authorities in the Bahamas prepared for a brush with the storm, with the center expected to pass near or over several islands during the night and Thursday.

A turn to the north and northwest toward the United States was expected late Thursday or Friday, but forecasters were still gathering data trying to determine how it might affect the U.S.

“We’ve got Air Force reconnaissance planes continuously giving us data from inside the hurricane this morning, and we’re going to be throwing a lot more aircraft resources at this problem over the next few days because it still is not certain whether or not Joaquin will directly impact the U.S. East Coast or stay out to sea,” said Rick Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center.

A hurricane warning was posted for the islands of San Salvador, Cat Island, Eleuthera and Rum Cay, with the threat of storm surges, coastal flooding and 5-10 inches (13-25 centimeters) of rain, said Geoffrey Greene, a senior forecaster with the Bahamas Meteorology Department.

“We would be very concerned about them,” Greene said.

Stephen Russell, director of the country’s National Emergency Management Agency, said the approach of the storm brought storm surges that washed out a portion of the main road in San Salvador and some people in low-lying areas on the island of Mayaguana were urged to evacuate their homes.

Those islands have relatively small populations, fewer than 1,000 on San Salvador, but they are vulnerable in a storm since most of the people live along the shoreline in modest homes.

A warning also was issued for some more populous islands in the northwestern Bahamas, including Grand Bahama and New Providence, where the capital of Nassau is.

On Eleuthera, a narrow strip to the north of Cat Island, people removed stray coconuts and other debris from their yards and put up storm shutters in blustery winds, said Chris Gosling, who runs a volunteer ambulance service on the island. Islanders have learned from past storms not to take chances.

“People don’t panic too much. There’s nothing you can do about it. If it comes, it comes, and you do what you can,” said Gosling, who has lived on Eleuthera for 27 years. “If the forecast is right we will get some wind and rain and it will go back out to sea.”

The U.S. National Hurricane Center’s long-term forecast showed the storm could near the U.S. East Coast above North Carolina on Sunday.

“Residents of the Carolinas north should be paying attention and monitoring the storm. There’s no question,” said Eric Blake, a hurricane specialist with the center. “If your hurricane plans got a little dusty because of the light hurricane season, now is a good time to update them.”

The center of the storm Wednesday evening was about 95 miles (150 kilometers) east of the central Bahamas and moving toward the southwest at 7 mph (11 kph).

UPDATE: Wednesday, 9:15 p.m. :

Bob Turk notes that Joaquin may land in the Carolinas instead of our area.

“I just looked at about ten different hurricane model tracks, and an interesting shift to the west has been noted by all these models. Hurricane Joaquin now a cat 2 storm with winds up to 105mph is approaching the central Bahamas this evening and hurricane warnings are in place. These updated models have the storm now more focused on the Carolinas rather than the Chesapeake region, this may change,but it is interesting that this shift has occurred tonight. Future tracks will change, I’m sure, as we get closer to the weekend. In the meanwhile a totally different low pressure is going to develop along a stalled cold front now east of us, and develop another major rain event on Friday, with the potential for 1 to 3 inches of additional rains! More local flooding will be possible at that time. and this is long before any impacts here from the hurricane. Please stay tuned as these models and forecasts will be constantly updated,” he said.

UPDATE: Wednesday, 8 p.m. :

A strengthening Hurricane Joaquin approached the central islands of the Bahamas on Wednesday evening, following a projected track that would take it near the U.S. East Coast by the weekend.

Maximum sustained winds reached 105 mph (165 kph) and extended 35 miles (55 kilometers) from the center of the storm over the Atlantic Ocean, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami, which predicted Joaquin would develop into a major hurricane in the coming days.

Authorities in the Bahamas prepared for a brush with the storm, with the center expected to pass near or over several islands during the night and Thursday.

A turn to the north toward the United States was expected by Thursday night or Friday, but forecasters were still gathering data trying to determine how it might affect the U.S.

“We’ve got Air Force reconnaissance planes continuously giving us data from inside the hurricane this morning, and we’re going to be throwing a lot more aircraft resources at this problem over the next few days because it still is not certain whether or not Joaquin will directly impact the U.S. East Coast or stay out to sea,” said Rick Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center.

A hurricane warning was posted for the islands of San Salvador, Cat Island, Eleuthera and Rum Cay, with the threat of storm surges, coastal flooding and 5-10 inches (13-25 centimeters) of rain, said Geoffrey Greene, a senior forecaster with the Bahamas Meteorology Department.

“We would be very concerned about them,” Greene said.

Those islands have relatively small populations, fewer than 1,000 on San Salvador, but they are vulnerable in a storm since most of the people live along the shoreline in modest homes.

A warning also was issued for some more populous islands in the northwestern Bahamas, including Grand Bahama and New Providence, where the capital of Nassau is.

On Eleuthera, a narrow strip to the north of Cat Island, people removed stray coconuts and other debris from their yards and put up storm shutters in blustery winds, said Chris Gosling, who runs a volunteer ambulance service on the island. Islanders have learned from past storms not to take chances.

“People don’t panic too much. There’s nothing you can do about it. If it comes, it comes, and you do what you can,” said Gosling, who has lived on Eleuthera for 27 years. “If the forecast is right we will get some wind and rain and it will go back out to sea.”

The U.S. National Hurricane Center’s long-term forecast showed the storm could near the U.S. East Coast above North Carolina on Sunday.

“Residents of the Carolinas north should be paying attention and monitoring the storm. There’s no question,” said Eric Blake, a hurricane specialist with the center. “If your hurricane plans got a little dusty because of the light hurricane season, now is a good time to update them.”

The center of the storm Wednesday evening was about 95 miles (150 kilometers) east of the central Bahamas and moving toward the southwest at 7 mph (11 kph).

UPDATE: Wednesday, 5 p.m.

People on the islands of the eastern Bahamas are getting ready for Hurricane Joaquin, removing stray coconuts and other debris from their yards and putting up storm shutters in blustery winds.

At 5 p.m. Wednesday, Joaquin was about 175 miles (282 kilometers) east of the central Bahamas and has winds of about 85 mph (137 kph).

Chris Gosling runs a volunteer ambulance service on Eleuthera, a narrow strip to the north of Cat Island. He says people aren’t panicking too much. Islanders are preparing for heavy rains, strong winds and flooding

UPDATE: Wednesday, 4 p.m.: Steady rain is drenching much of the East Coast, flooding roads, closing schools and forcing some people from their homes. And forecasters say the worst is yet to come.

The storms may soon be joined by Hurricane Joaquin in a powerful weather system that may linger for days and dump as much as 10 inches in some places through early next week.

Bruce Terry is lead forecaster for the government’s Weather Prediction Center. He says heavy rains are likely from the Carolinas to New England.

Flooding has already been a problem from storms in the last several days. In southwest Virginia, schools closed early Tuesday in several counties because of flooded roads. About 100 people had to be helped from low-lying homes in Salem, Virginia.

UPDATE: Wednesday, 1:00 p.m.: The NWS says Joaquin has continued to strengthen overnight and satellite imagery shows what might be an “eye” trying to form. Joaquin continues to strengthen as it moves Southwestward toward the Central Bahamas.

The storm currently has maximum sustained winds at 80 mph.

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for: Central Bahamas including Cat Island, the Exumas, Long Island, Rum Cay, and San Salvador.

Tim Williams  has more on how Joaquin could affect Maryland weather this week.

 

145429W5_NL_smWJZ’s First Warning Weather Team will be following the path of Joaquin.

MORE: Current Conditions | Download The App

UPDATE: Wednesday, 8:00 a.m.: Marty Bass reports that Joaquin could make landfall somewhere between the Carolinas and the Mid-Atlantic later in the week.

Bass said Joaquin would probably go from a category 1 hurricane to a category 2 hurricane then back to a 1.

However, some European models are showing the storm moving back into the ocean.

Meanwhile in the Pacific, Marty has weakened to a tropical depression as it moves away from Mexico’s coast.

Marty’s maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 35 mph (55 kph) and it’s expected to weaken to a remnant low later Wednesday or on Thursday. The depression is centered about 115 miles (185 kilometers) south-southwest of Zihuatanejo, Mexico.

(Copyright 2015 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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