The National Hurricane Center forecast now has Joaquin to reach Major Hurricane intensity within two days. That would be a Category 3 with winds of 115 mph or stronger. Then the forecast path goes up the Chesapeake Bay arriving Sunday night or Monday morning. Please note that as scary as that may seem, perhaps more ominous than Isabel’s track in 2003, there is a wide cone of error. So the potential really is for this to end up in a wide area either from west or east of the center. Odds are there will be some more adjusting of the track. Compare this to the tropical spaghetti model plot and more reasons below.
The mid afternoon update on Wednesday September 30 has Hurricane Joaquin looking healthy but at the same intensity for now. NHC has top winds still at 85 mph. Hurricane force winds reach 35 miles from the center, tropical storm force winds extend 125 mph. At this point, weather balloon launches have increased from twice to four times a day to add more information to the Air Force Recon Missions. We will have much more intel and improved updated every 6 hours from this.
Hurricane Warnings continue for the Bahamas as we wait for this storm to slow and turn the corner Thursday. That will be the point when we will get a better idea of whether this will follow most models and turn towards the east coast, or the European solution and go out to sea.
The late afternoon satellite, official update, and warnings are at the bottom of this post.
Landfall Location Near Peak Intensity?
There are two points I want to make with this update. First is that the trend with the model forecasting a landfall has spread across the east coast. The range extends from North Carolina across the Chesapeake Bay, to New York as seen here with these multiple model plots. The National Hurricane Center forest map above is somewhere in the middle of this spread. We can still sort out the path, as the transition to northward movement on Thursday will help. But preparing for the impact intensity is important to discuss now. More in the next graphic below.
Should the landfall scenario occur, it could be Saturday or Sunday. Note that the timing changes based on how sharp of a turn the storm takes. An earlier landfall would be farther down the coast, while landfalling north would take an extra day of travel.
If this does or does not follow a similar path to Isabel in 2003, the forecast intensity could be at or near its peak at landfall. That is different than Isabel which was a Category 5, but was already weakening at landfall. It hit as a Category 2. While the wave memory of the Cat 5 pushed up the Bay, the winds were less destructive. However should a storm be similar in track, and maybe intensity, but be better organized, the landfalling destruction would be worse with storm surge and tornadoes. Plus the storm could maintain strength farther inland.
LOCATION…24.3N 73.1W ABOUT 175 MI…285 KM ENE OF THE CENTRAL BAHAMAS
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS…85 MPH…140 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT…SW OR 225 DEGREES AT 8 MPH…13 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE…967 MB…28.56 INCHES
WATCHES AND WARNINGS ——————– CHANGES WITH THIS ADVISORY:
The Government of the Bahamas has issued a Hurricane Warning for the Northwestern Bahamas including the Abacos, Berry Islands, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island, and New Providence, but excluding Andros Island and Bimini.
The Government of the Bahamas has issued a Tropical Storm Warning for the Southeastern Bahamas, including the Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay, the Inaguas, Mayaguana, and the Ragged Islands, but excluding the Turks and Caicos Islands.
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, but excluding Andros Island and Bimini
A Hurricane Watch is in effect for… * Bimini 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.
A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.
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 within 36 hours.
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