Hurricane Joaquin on Thursday morning was whipping parts
of the Bahamas, an archipelago nation with more than 350,000 people, and the slow-moving storm is expected to continue pounding the islands through on Friday.
Around 11 a.m. ET, the storm’s eye was passing over the country’s uninhabited Samana Cays with
maximum sustained winds of 125 mph.
Forecasters say the storm will be near the northwestern Bahamas, including the country’s most populous city, Nassau, by Friday.
By that time, Joaquin could have 140 mph winds capable of causing catastrophic damage, the U.S.
National Hurricane Center said.
Ten to 20 inches of rain could fall over much of the central Bahamas through Friday, according to the
Rain isn’t the only concern. Dangerous storm surges — with water levels as high as 5 to 8 feet
above normal tides — are possible on the central Bahamian coasts.
Swells from Joaquin also will affect the southeastern U.S. coast by Thursday, potentially creating life-threatening rip currents, the hurricane center said.
Outer rain bands could hit parts of Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic through Friday, forecasters said.
Joaquin’s forecast track shows it could be near North Carolina by Monday and possibly New Jersey a day later, hauntingly close to where
Superstorm Sandy made landfall in 2012.
It was just three years ago this month that Sandy slammed the northeastern United States,
devastating parts of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
But the projected path of the current storm system already has changed multiple times and could
And should Joaquin make it back to the areas Sandy devastated before, it’s not expected to pack
the same punch.
When Sandy made landfall on October 29, 2012, it had hurricane-force winds. Joaquin is projected to be a tropical storm once it gets that far north.
No matter where Joaquin goes, the storm is expected to bring significant rainfall to the East
Coast, where some states already were dealing with flooding from separate systems this week.
“One way or the other, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and on up will get between 5 and
10 inches of rain — even without a direct landfall,” CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said. “If we get a
landfall, we get 15 inches of rain and winds of 80 mph.
“But without even a direct landfall, there will be significant flooding through the Carolinas, through
Virginia, and all the way up the East Coast.”
Parts of the eastern U.S. from Florida to New Jersey were under flood watches and warnings
Thursday morning, with more than 10 inches of rain already having fallen in some areas this week.
Flooding made some streets impassable in Portland, Maine, on Wednesday. Several cars were
stalled on one street there after their drivers tried to make it through standing water, WMTW reported.
Floodwater rose to the top of vehicles’ tires at a Whole Foods store in Portland, stranding drivers,
On Wednesday morning, winds topped 20 mph along the Virginia Beach coast, with intermittent
Along Virginia Beach’s Atlantic Avenue, a main thoroughfare about two blocks from the ocean,
business owners appeared to be taking a wait- and-see approach. There were no boarded-up
windows. Stores remained open, but there were only a few customers. It wasn’t clear if that was because of the weather or because it’s October in a beach town.
Asked what she was doing to prepare for Joaquin, Sharlotte Castillo of the beach shop Sunsations, about a block from the water, said, “Pray, but we always pray, so nothing new. … We’re usually fine here — maybe a little rain, but we’re staying open.”
In eastern Pennsylvania, folks are taking the threat just as seriously. The Poconos took a beating during Sandy.
“What we’re expecting here is to be on alert for flash floods as well as power outages, and so we’re trying to get the word out to the community to think ahead, to have a plan,” Michele Baehr with
the Red Cross told WNEP.