Hurricane Joaquin: ‘Historic, Potentially Life-Threatening’ Rainfall Expected This Weekend
Hurricane Joaquin, which brought heavy rainfall, powerful winds and severe weather in the Bahamas, is being seen as a lesser threat to the United States East Coast, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
Since Superstorm Sandy struck in October 2012, it was the first time the U.S. northeast was threatened with a major tropical cyclone. U.S. officials made heavy preparations ahead of the hurricane making a possible landfall. In a regular storm update, the hurricane center said, “We are becoming optimistic that the Carolinas and the mid-Atlantic states will avoid the direct effects from Joaquin.” Nevertheless, warnings were issued to the residents of New York, Connecticut and New Jersey of possible severe weather. Three years ago, 120 people were killed and in excess of $70 billion of property damage was caused by Sandy.
There is a “historic, potentially life-threatening rainfall event expected this weekend” in the Southeast from a different weather system, the National Weather Service said. States of emergency were issued in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina ahead of possible severe weather. In a statement, North Carolina Governor, Pat McCrory, said, “We’re hoping for the best, but hope is not preparation nor is it a plan.”
Hurricane Joaquin, which was upgraded to Category 4 on a scale of 1 to 5, was progressing gradually through the Bahamas. The third hurricane of the 2015 Atlantic season, Joaquin was around 75 miles south of San Salvador, Bahamas. According to Reuters, it had maximum sustained winds of 130 miles per hour, the hurricane center said late Thursday. The rains “are likely to continue for the next few days, even if the center of Joaquin stays offshore,” the weather service said.
With flood watches issued for the Carolinas and Virginia, certain parts of the Carolinas are expected to experience a foot of rain this weekend. The weather service in Greenville, S.C., said that there is a “potential for catastrophic flooding.”
As of 5 p.m. ET, the center of Joaquin was around 15 miles northwest of the Crooked Islands, Bahamas. It was steadily moving southwest at a speed of 6 miles per hour. While the forecast suggests that it is expected to move west-northwest Thursday night, it will shift towards the north and will witness an increase in forward speed Friday. Central Bahamas could experience a total of 10 to 15 inches of rainfall, with isolated maximum amounts reaching as much as 20 inches, according to USA Today.
“This is obviously something that the president and his team are closely monitoring here and I anticipate we’ll be doing that through the weekend,” said White House spokesman, Josh Earnest.
Meanwhile residents living in areas closest to Joaquin’s course – which include Rum Cay, Long Island, Exuma and Eleuthera – stocked up on necessities like food and drink. Vacationers in North Carolina’s Outer Banks had left ahead of the weekend expected to bring along severe weather.
“Everybody is taking this one a little more seriously because of the rain we have had,” John Fletcher, Hyde County commissioner, said.
An evacuation order was issued for Ocracoke, affecting in excess of 2,000 people. In a statement, local officials said, “Anyone who chooses to stay on Ocracoke for Hurricane Joaquin does so at their own risk.”