Major Hurricane Joaquin to Menace Bahamas, Spare Florida

A day can be a lifetime in the sensitive world of a tropical cyclone, and Joaquin made the most of Wednesday. Just a tropical storm Tuesday evening, Joaquin exploded into the season’s second major hurricane Wednesday evening, packing Category 3 winds of 115 mph as of the 11pm advisory.  The storm has continued its slow southwest movement and will bring hurricane-force winds and torrential rains to the Bahamas for the next 36-48 hours, before an expected turn to the north, and away from the Sunshine State. Hurricane warnings are now in effect for all but the southern and westernmost Bahamas, and a direct hit is now expected for the eastern islands.

Computer models have come into better agreement over the last day as to Joaquin’s eventual path. While uncertainty is still high due to an unusually complicated upper-atmospheric setup, a consensus now favors landfall somewhere along the mid-Atlantic coast Sunday or Monday. No model solution projects a pass over Florida, although the hurricane may pass as close as 200 miles to our east on Friday and Saturday. Rip currents and rough seas remain the expected extent of the storm’s direct impacts to our state, with drier, pleasant conditions moving in beginning Friday.

As the storm nears the US coast, a trough becomes more likely to pull the storm toward the Carolinas, potentially still as a major hurricane – but there’s a catch. A weakness exists at upper levels to Joaquin’s north-east, and some usually reliable models have been suggesting this solution consistently, with the storm passing harmlessly out to sea. The current National Hurricane Center forecast favors an east coast landfall, with the center possibly coming ashore anywhere from Wilmington to Long Island.

Now is a great time to download the new app for iOS, Florida Storms. It’s a free service of the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network and provides real-time weather information and customized push notification alerts to dangerous weather in your area.

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