Joaquin became the third hurricane of the 2015 Atlantic season this morning as the pressure continued to drop within the system through the overnight hours and the winds increased to 75 mph as of 8 AM ET. A 55 mile wide eye was also found by Hurricane Hunters this morning on the north side of Joaquin. This storm has its eye on the Bahamas as we head through the next couple days, before taking a turn north – one that, depending on the eventual path, could have impacts on the east coast.
Hurricane Watches and Warnings has been put into effect for parts of the Bahamas as conditions are expected to worsen over the next couple days with Joaquin moving to the west and southwest. That means hurricane force winds (74 mph or greater) are possible within portions of the Bahamas in the next 24-48 hours. That’s not the only impact that Joaquin may bring the Bahamas – they will also likely have to deal with:
- Storm Surge: Water levels could rise by 2 to 4 feet above the normal levels, especially in areas of onshore flow. Large waves near the coast can also be expected.
- Heavy Rain: The heaviest will likely fall in areas such as San Salvador and Rum Cay where up to 15″ is possible. The rest of the Bahamas could see between 2-6″ through Friday.
Increased wave heights and rip currents are also possible along the coast of Florida by this weekend.
(LATEST TROPICAL MAPS: AerisWeather Tropical Center)
Hurricane Joaquin Forecast
Over the next couple days, we do expect the system to move to the west and southwest toward the Bahamas, as mentioned above. After that, we expect a northerly turn from the system. Where it ends up after that point, though, is a bit up in the air still as numerous environmental factors will be playing a role in the eventual path of this system – including the front that is stalling out along the east coast (which we talked about yesterday), a trough aloft over the southeast United States, and the remnants of Ida to the east of Joaquin affecting high pressure over the north Atlantic. All of these will factor into whether the storm takes a northwest turn into the coast later this weekend or if we see Joaquin take a turn out to sea. Our forecast models and ensembles continue to be all over the map with what happens as we head into Friday and the weekend, so if you are along the East Coast it is important to pay attention to the eventual path of Joaquin.
In the 11 AM ET technical discussion from the National Hurricane Center, they had three key points on Joaquin:
1. Confidence in the details of the track forecast late in the
period remains low, since the environmental steering currents are
complex and the model guidance is inconsistent. A wide range of
outcomes is possible, from a direct impact of a major hurricane
along the U.S. east coast to a track of Joaquin out to sea away from
the coast. It is therefore way too soon to talk about specific
wind, rain, or surge impacts from Joaquin in the U.S.
2. Should the threat to the U.S. increase, any further adjustments
of the forecast to the west would likely be accompanied by an
increase in the forecast forward speed, with impacts along the coast
occurring sooner than currently forecast. A hurricane watch could
be required for portions of the U.S. coast as early as Thursday
3. Many areas of the eastern U.S. are currently experiencing heavy
rains and gusty winds associated with a frontal system. This
inclement weather is expected to continue over the next few days,
which could complicate preparations for Joaquin should it head
toward the coast.
(CHECK OUT YOUR FORECAST: wx.aerisweather.com)
– Meteorologist D.J. Kayser