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Hurricane Joaquin detailed


Source: Scott Kelly, Astronaut

This week, Joaquin has been the storm to watch. Starting on Sept 27, a new tropical depression was declared in the mid-Atlantic. Then the next morning Joaquin was considered to be “poorly organized,” but hours later NWS forecasters expected Joaquin to become a tropical storm just later that same day - which occurred.

On Sept 29, Joaquin kept moving westward with no change during the morning time. By early afternoon forecasters noticed that Joaquin was gradually strengthening. Later that day, Joaquin was expected to become hurricane by that night or the day following. A hurricane watch was set for the Bahamas.

The morning of Sept 30 brought the news that Joaquin had not strengthened to hurricane overnight, but forecasters were expecting that news to come soon. Hurricane warning was set for the Bahamas just hours before Joaquin was declared a hurricane. Joaquin strengthened during the day, and continued towards the Bahamas. Joaquin was declared a Category 3 hurricane at 11:00pm EDT.

During this time of rapid intensification, most forecasting models were in disagreeance about the path of Joaquin post-Bahamas. Some thought he would approach the mid-Atlantic coast, others predicted a path towards the New England area, and others predicted Joaquin to weaken, and have his remnants swept back to sea by the steep upper-level trough approaching from the U.S.

The next morning, Oct 1, Joaquin had winds of 120mph heading straight for the Bahamas, as forecasted. The eye passed over Samana Cays at 11:00am EDT. Joaquin continued to strengthen to a Category 4 hurricane at 2:00pm EDT. The Bahamas endured hurricane force winds all night.

Source: National Hurricane Center (NHC)

Friday, Oct 2 became a day of cautious hope for the Bahamas, as Joaquin began to move slowly northwest, and later North. Joaquin also weakened slightly while his eye passed over San Salvador Island at 5:00pm EDT. Forecasters have shared that they expect some slow weakening is in Joaquin’s future, as he currently stands as a Category 3 hurricane. Notably, models are now mostly agreeing that Joaquin will carry on in a northeasterly direction, away from the east coast of the U.S.

What steered Joaquin away from the U.S.? Looking at the forecasted upper-level winds (250mb) there is a deep trough forming over Florida, that will continue through the weekend, and those winds are will steer Joaquin northeastward. There is still expected to be some flooding and heavy rainfall over the mid-Atlantic coast.

Source: National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)

What’s happening on land in the Bahamas?

  • Hurricane strength wind for the next several hours

  • Storm surge, water levels rising up to 6-12 ft above normal

  • Heavy rain, as “Joaquin is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 12 to 18 inches over central Bahamas, with maximum isolated amounts of 25 inches” (NHC Advisory 20a)

Stay vigilant - stay updated with your local weather warnings. There is another tropical disturbance in the mid-Atlantic just behind Joaquin.

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