Hurricane Joaquin has rapidly intensified today and is now a major hurricane with winds of 115 MPH. This makes it a dangerous Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Additional intensification is expected overnight and Joaquin could become a Category 4 hurricane on Thursday. Confidence continues to increase that this storm will be a direct threat to the eastern United States. There remains the possibility that Joaquin could move out to sea – but that chance is decreasing. Anyone from South Carolina north to New England should monitor the forecasts closely. Should trends continue a Hurricane Watch will be required for portions of the Eastern United States tomorrow.

KEY MESSAGES:

1. Preparations to protect life and property within the warning
areas in the Central Bahamas should be completed now.

2. Confidence in the details of the forecast after 72 hours remains
low, since we have one normally excellent model that keeps Joaquin
far away from the United States east coast. The range of possible
outcomes is still large, and includes the possibility of a major
hurricane landfall in the Carolinas.

3. Every effort is being made to provide the forecast models with
as much data as possible. The NOAA G-IV jet has begun a series of
missions in the storm environment, and the National Weather Service
has begun launching extra balloon soundings.

4. Because landfall, if it occurs, is still more than three days
away, it’s too early to talk about specific wind, rain, or surge
impacts from Joaquin in the United States. Regardless of Joaquin’s
track, strong onshore winds will create minor to moderate coastal
flooding along the coasts of the mid-Atlantic and northeastern
states through the weekend.

5. A hurricane watch for a portion of the U.S. coast could be
required as early as Thursday evening.

6. Many portions of the eastern U.S. are currently experiencing
heavy rains and gusty winds associated with a frontal system. These
heavy rains are likely to continue for the next few days, even if
the center of Joaquin stays offshore. The resulting inland flood
potential could complicate preparations for Joaquin should it head
toward the coast, and even more substantial inland flooding is
possible if Joaquin later passes near or over these same areas.

2015-09-30_21-52-48

BULLETIN
HURRICANE JOAQUIN ADVISORY NUMBER 13
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL112015
1100 PM EDT WED SEP 30 2015

…JOAQUIN BECOMES A CATEGORY 3 HURRICANE AS IT MOVES TOWARD
THE CENTRAL BAHAMAS…

SUMMARY OF 1100 PM EDT…0300 UTC…INFORMATION
———————————————–
LOCATION…23.8N 73.1W
ABOUT 90 MI…145 KM E OF SAN SALVADOR
ABOUT 170 MI…275 KM E OF THE CENTRAL BAHAMAS
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS…115 MPH…185 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT…SW OR 220 DEGREES AT 6 MPH…9 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE…951 MB…28.09 INCHES

WATCHES AND WARNINGS
——————–
CHANGES WITH THIS ADVISORY:

The government of the Bahamas has issued a Tropical Storm Warning
and a Hurricane Watch for Andros Island.

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT:

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for…
* Central Bahamas including Cat Island, the Exumas, Long Island,
Rum Cay, and San Salvador
* Northwestern Bahamas including the Abacos, Berry Islands,
Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island, and New Providence

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for…
* Bimini
* Andros Island

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…
* Southeastern Bahamas including the Acklins, Crooked Island,
Long Cay, the Inaguas, Mayaguana, and the Ragged Islands, but
excluding the Turks and Caicos Islands.
* Andros Island

A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected
somewhere within the warning area. Preparations to protect life and
property should have already been completed in the Central Bahamas.

A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible
within the watch area.

A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are
expected somewhere within the warning area.

For storm information specific to your area, please monitor
products issued by your national meteorological service.

DISCUSSION AND 48-HOUR OUTLOOK
——————————
At 1100 PM EDT (0300 UTC), the center of Hurricane Joaquin was
located near latitude 23.8 North, longitude 73.1 West. Joaquin is
moving toward the southwest near 6 mph (9 km/h) and this general
motion is expected to continue over the next 24 hours. A turn
toward the northwest and north is forecast Thursday night or Friday.
The center of Joaquin is expected to move near or over portions of
the central Bahamas overnight and Thursday, and be near or over
portions of the Northwestern Bahamas Thursday night or Friday.

Data from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter Aircraft indicate
that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 115 mph (185
km/h) with higher gusts. Joaquin is a category 3 hurricane on the
Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Additional strengthening is
forecast during the next day or so. Some fluctuations in intensity
are possible Thursday night and Friday.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles (55 km) from the
center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles
(220 km).

The latest minimum central pressure estimated from reconnaissance
data is 951 mb (28.09 inches).

HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND
———————-
WIND: Hurricane conditions are expected to reach portions of the
Central Bahamas by early Thursday morning. Winds are expected to
first reach tropical storm strength in the warning area tonight,
making outside preparations difficult or dangerous. Preparations to
protect life and property should be rushed to completion. Tropical
storm conditions are expected in the southeastern Bahamas beginning
tonight. Hurricane conditions are expected over portions of the
Northwestern Bahamas Thursday night or Friday.

STORM SURGE: A dangerous storm surge will raise water levels by as
much as 5 to 8 feet above normal tide levels in the Central Bahamas
in areas of onshore flow. A storm surge of 2 to 4 feet above normal
tide levels is expected in the Northwest Bahamas within the
Hurricane Warning area, and 1 to 2 feet is expected in the Southeast
Bahamas. Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and
dangerous waves.

RAINFALL: Joaquin is expected to produce total rain accumulations of
10 to 15 inches over the central Bahamas and 5 to 10 inches over the
northwestern Bahamas and southeastern Bahamas. Isolated maximum
amounts of 20 inches are possible in the central Bahamas. This
rainfall could result in life-threatening flash floods.

SURF: Swells generated by Joaquin will affect portions of the
Bahamas during the next few days, and will begin to affect portions
of the southeastern coast of the United States by Thursday. These
swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current
conditions. Please consult products from your local weather office.