Tropical Storm Joaquin has officially been upgraded to hurricane status.
According to NBC News, Joaquin strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane on Wednesday morning, but meteorologists are still skeptical of whether or not it will ravish the east coast.
Joaquin is the third hurricane to develop in 2015, and is currently packing winds of approximately 75 mph, with its center churning at nearly 245 mph. As of now, Hurricane Joaquin is located an estimated 250 miles east of the Bahamas, according to the National Weather Service. The U.S. National Hurricane Center has said that the hurricane is expected to continue strengthening over the next two days.
New 5am NHC #Joaquin path shifted slightly towards Mid-Atlantic region but slower arrival Monday. pic.twitter.com/w4yRMeptRE"It could be a significant situation," said Brian Fortier, senior meteorologist at The Weather Channel. "Everyone along the Northeast coast, right up to New England, should keep a close eye on the forecasts."
— Bill Karins (@BillKarins) September 30, 2015
A hurricane warning was already issued early Wednesday. The National Weather Service says the warnings are typically issued around 36 hours before "conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous," meaning that "preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion."
Regardless of #Joaquin eventual track, focus on what is going to be a significant HEAVY RAIN/FLOOD event for the Appalachian region.Whether or not hurricane Joaquin approaches the United States or not, there will be several potential impacts to the east coast. River flooding and flash flooding will be a main concern. The Mid-Atlantic to the central Appalachians and the Carolinas are expected to be hit with the heaviest amounts of rainfall. Many areas can expect to see upwards of five inches of rain, with some areas estimated to receive nearly a foot of rain with the torrential rainfall.
— Jim Cantore (@JimCantore) September 30, 2015
Increasing winds will also be a concern for those living along the east coast. While the hurricane is currently experiencing 75 mph winds, it is expected to strengthen in the coming days, possibly rising to 100 miles-per-hour. The high winds could lead to a "high surf, beach erosion and possible coastal flooding in some locations along the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic coast."
"Depending on how this weather pattern unfolds, the strong winds could impact coastal areas of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic starting Wednesday night and then last through this weekend," The Weather Channel reports. "If Joaquin approached the U.S. coast, there would be a core of much stronger winds, but that remains very uncertain."
Some experts are saying that the center of the storm will remain offshore, while others are suggesting it will make landfall, likely hitting North Carolina or Virginia over the weekend.
"If there's anywhere in this country that could take a Category 1 hit, it would be eastern North Carolina," NBC News meteorologist Bill Karins said on Wednesday morning.
"We simply don't know if it's going to go left into America or right and pass Bermuda," CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said.
While hurricane Joaquin is wreaking havoc in the Atlantic, in the Pacific, Marty has weakened to a tropical depression. Marty's maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 35 mph, and they are expected to continue decreasing through Thursday. Marty is currently located approximately 115 miles south-southwest of Zihuatanejo, Mexico.
[Photos via video screenshots]