Hurricane Joaquin Strengthened to a Category 4 storm this afternoon and is impacting the Bahama Islands.
The National Hurricane Center is forecasting Joaquin to remain a major hurricane through Saturday morning. Sea surface temperatures, as shown in the graphic below are warm in the upper 70’s to middle 80s. Sea Surface temperatures are a couple of degrees above normal for early October which will continue fuel Joaquine.
In addition, the atmospheric environment surrounding Joaquine in is favorable for further strengthening over the next 12 to 24 hours.
Severe impacts and damages can be expected in the Bahamas. The graphic below outlines the Saffir-Simpson scale which was adjusted prior to the 2012 hurricane season.
2012 Updated Saffir-Simpson Scale for Hurricane Strength
For a video of the damage that can be caused as wind speeds increase see the National Hurricane Centers website.
For impacts to the East Coast, the situation remains very complex as a frontal boundary will remain nearly stationary along the Eastern seaboard into Saturday. This front will continue to be a focus for shower and thunderstorm development, especially in the Carolina’s and parts of the Mid-Atlantic States. This additional rainfall will be on top widespread of 1 to 3+ inches received across the region over the past few days (see graphic below.)
This is setting the stage for a very concerning flood event this weekend as an additional widespread 4 to 6 inches of rain is expected over the Carolina’s with focus areas of 6 to 8+ inches.
River forecasts, which only include rainfall through Saturday, are already showing the potential of minor to moderate flooding as shown by the locations boxed in orange and red in the graphic below.
Flash flooding especially in the more mountainous areas of the Carolinas and Western Virginia is also a significant concern. Flash flood watches are in effect for most this area.
For the coast, the threat for coastal flooding increases with each high tide. The coastal stations along the Virginia Coast and in the Chesapeake Bay indicate the potential for Moderate to Major level coast flooding problems. The graphic below is the tidal gauge at the Chesapeake Bay near Kiptopeke, VA where the high tide on Friday afternoon could lead to major coastal flooding.
As for the path of Joaquine this weekend, confidence remains very low in the track of the forecast beyond Friday. The atmosphere remains very complex with the interaction of the upper level trough and Jetstream, the surface cold front along the East Coast and Joaquine. The graphic below shows a sample of the various hurricane models and potential tracks. Beyond Saturday Morning the models significantly diverge in both the strength and path. Some bring the storm toward the Carolinas and others toward the northeast and a group keeping the storm off the east coast entirely.
The official forecast from the National Hurricane Center now keeps Joaquine just off the Virginia coast on Monday and brings it ashore into New York on Tuesday. Again there is a HIGH degree of uncertainty with this forecast and those with interest along the east coast need to remain aware for updates and likely changes to the forecast.
The team at WxIntegrations will continue to provide relevant information and resources to help you better understand and prepare by incorporating weather impacts into your planning activities.