ATLANTA, GA – Hurricane Joaquin is now classified as a “major,” category three storm and looks more likely to threaten the East Coast next week, according to officials.
The latest projected tracks have the potentially life threatening storm striking along the coast somewhere between the Carolinas to New England, with a couple projected tracks having the storm staying off the coast.
No matter what path Joaquin actually takes, our weather will be wet and windy for the next several days, according to officials.
According to the National Hurricane Center in Atlanta, Georgia, as of 11 a.m. Thursday, the eye of major Hurricane Joaquin is passing over Samana Cays in the Bahamas, 80 miles south-southeast of San Salvador.
Reports from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 125 mph - a strong Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
Some additional strengthening is possible during the next 24 hours, with some fluctuations in intensity possible Friday night and Saturday, the center warned.
A turn toward the northwest and north is expected on Friday, and a faster motion toward the north is expected Friday night and Saturday, the center reported.
On the forecast track, the center of Joaquin will move near or over portions of the central Bahamas today and tonight and pass near or over portions of the northwestern Bahamas on Friday.
A Hurricane Warning continues for the Central and Northwest Bahamas (including the Abacos, Berry Islands, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island, and New Providence) and for the Acklins, Crooked Island, and Mayaguana in the Southeast Bahamas.
A Hurricane Watch is in effect for Bimini and Andros Island. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the remainder of the southeastern Bahamas now including the Turks and Caicos Island, and Andros Island, the center reported.
According to the report, however, confidence in the details of the forecast after 72 hours is still low, since there have been some large changes in the model guidance overnight and a large spread in the model solutions remains, with potential impacts from the Carolinas through New England.
It is also possible that Joaquin will remain far from the U.S. east coast. A hurricane watch for the U.S. coast would likely not occur until at least Friday morning, the center said.
While the center’s report said that it's too early to talk about specific wind, rain, or surge impacts from Joaquin in the United States, strong onshore winds will create minor to moderate coastal flooding along the coasts of the mid-Atlantic and northeastern states through the weekend.
Get the latest on this tropical cyclone by visiting the NHC website at www.hurricanes.gov.