Hurricane Joaquin Strengthens To A Category 3 Storm As It Nears The East Coast

Hurricane Joaquin, which we reported yesterday had developed into a Category 1 hurricane, has further intensified over the past 24 hours to become a Category 3 Hurricane.

According to the Washington Post, the hurricane is moving west towards the Bahamas. Meteorologists are still unable to predict a path Hurricane Joaquin is likely to follow in the coming days. According to data received as of 11 p.m. Wednesday, Hurricane Joaquin boasted sustained winds of over 115 mph and had a central pressure of 951 millibars. The hurricane was expected to intensify further. By Friday, it is expected to transform into a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of over 140 mph, the report added.

The hurricane is expected to hit the east coast of mainland U.S. by Friday and could make landfall anywhere between North Carolina and Delaware. The National Hurricane Center is continuously monitoring the hurricane and will report any changes in the direction of its movement. The is also a possibility of a hurricane watch being issued across the coastal areas of Eastern United States by Friday.

Hurricane Joaquin
In this handout from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Hurricane Joaquin is seen churning in the Caribbean

Even if the hurricane does not end up making landfall in the coastal areas mentioned earlier, it is still likely to cause extensive amounts of rainfall across the eastern part of the United States. This is thanks to an existing low-pressure area looming over the coastal area, which is likely to draw the hurricane into it.

Areas that could expect heavy rainfall include South Carolina, North Carolina, and Maine. According to a National Weather Service bulletin, rainfall totals in excess of six inches could hit several coastal areas. For Virginia, Delaware, and Maryland, the rainfall could go up to 10 inches. This would make Hurricane Joaquin one of the most powerful storms to hit the eastern U.S. coast this year. The possibility of the rains bringing coastal soil erosion and flash floods is being considered, and several states have been issued warnings about the potential threats.

Meanwhile, data coming in from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) talks about the possibility of strong waves hitting the eastern seaboard by Sunday. The waves, according to them, could reach heights in excess of 30 or 40 feet, making the chances of a devastating storm surge a distinct possibility during high tides. A Category 3 is typically known to pack wind speeds that range from 111 mph to 130 mph. It is capable of causing significant damage, excessive flooding, and power outages.

Joaquin hurricane
Another view of Hurricane Joaquin before it was upgraded to a category 4 hurricane

Meteorologists monitoring Hurricane Joaquin noted that in the past 24 hours, the conditions that kept the hurricane away from the U.S. coast gradually decreased in strength. Furthermore, the existing low-pressure system within the continental United States started pulling the hurricane towards land. This happened even as the wind speeds within the hurricane started to intensify — first from 40 mph to 80 mph by Wednesday morning and now from 80 mph to nearly 140 mph as it was categorized into a Category 3 hurricane. Existing conditions in the Atlantic ocean also contributed to the intensifying of the hurricane, thanks to the warm water currents that is fueling it. Hurricane Joaquin is expected to remain in the intensification phase until Friday. The good news for people in the coastal region of the United States is the fact that Hurricane Joaquin is moving at a sedate pace, which will give people enough time to evacuate in case of a landfall this weekend.

Meanwhile, the hurricane warnings have already been issued for the Bahamas and are expected to remain in force for the next 48 hours as Hurricane Joaquin intensifies.

Are you a resident from the eastern coast of the United States? Are you taking any precautions to guard yourselves against Hurricane Joaquin?

[Photo by NOAA via Getty Images]