Hurricane Joaquin’s track in the Atlantic Ocean is still uncertain, and though it’s not likely to make landfall, that may not matter — the east coast will still be walloped with drenching rain.
And that forecast had led five states to declare a state of emergency and prepare for the worst as Hurricane Joaquin thrashes the Bahamas and threatens to join another storm system to wreak havoc over the weekend.
Right now, forecasters predict the following for Hurricane Joaquin, according to ABC News: The National Hurricane Center has upgraded the storm to a Category 4, with 130 mph maximum sustained winds. Models indicated it will edge closer to the U.S. Sunday or Monday, but remain offshore near the Carolinas to Mid-Atlantic states.
Joaquin will leave the Bahamas Friday night, turning north; if it keeps to that path, it’ll remain over the sea, Fox News added.
But here’s the problem for the U.S. — even if Hurricane Joaquin doesn’t hit land, the storm system is still feeding moisture into another weather system currently stalled along the coast, CNN added. And that may make this unrelated storm even worse, causing potentially historic flooding, according to USA Today.
“I don’t think we’re going to see wind impact,” said CNN Meteorologist Chad Myers said, “but we’re going to see flooding impact. We have all of this tropical moisture, and it’s going to get sucked into the Carolinas, into Virginia, maybe even into Georgia, and that will cause flooding.”
A few conditions are expected this weekend. Even if Hurricane Joaquin stays off shore, the northeastern and Mid-Atlantic coasts should expect strong winds throughout the weekend. “Minor to moderate” flooding on the coast will likely occur; swells have already begun on the southeastern coast and are expected to head north.
Then there’s the storm already stalled along the coast. It is already bringing very heavy rains to the region and along with it flooding; New York should see strong enough winds and rain to cause airport delays. Power outages are expected as 60 mph winds are expected to pummel the state.
Flash flood warnings have been issued in Washington D.C and South Carolina. Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Virginia are expecting the worst, as the Carolinas have already seen two storm-related deaths. Rain has fallen there for days. And by Monday, five inches more may have fallen in the area; up to 15 inches is predicted from Virginia to the South Carolina-Georgia border.
Even up in Vermont, people are ready. They remember Hurricane Irene in 2011 and the damage it caused. Skip Flanders, from Waterbury, told CNN he’s dreading what Joaquin may do.
“We had 28 inches of water in our house from Irene. I certainly hope that something of that proportion doesn’t happen again.”
In other words, Hurricane Joaquin is the last thing the region needs right now.
The Bahamas is already bearing the brunt. On Friday, torrential rains flooded homes, uprooted trees, cut off power, and tore roofs off houses. People have been evacuated to shelters — some stubbornly staying behind — in what the prime minister has called a “horrific kind of experience.” Luckily, no casualties have been reported.
The Turks & Caicos nearby has closed its airports in preparation, and the Cuban government has issued a tropical storm warning.
Overnight Friday, the hurricane will move to the central Bahamas. On one of those islands, called Eleuthera, Christian minister Dawn Tayler said the locals are prepared for Hurricane Joaquin thanks to Floyd in 1999. And Bahamians have their faith to fall back on.
“We depend on our God, and as long as he is with us, we will be fine and we will ride out the storm.”
[Photos Courtesy NOAA, Joe Raedle / Getty Images]