Hurricane Joaquin strengthens en route to Bahamas, can hit East Coast
Hurricane Joaquin has intensified from a tropical storm to a Category 3 hurricane with winds reaching 120 miles per hour (193 km/h) and is projected to hit New York City.
Hurricane Joaquin en route to the Bahamas and with the potential to hit the United States strengthened late Wednesday, forecasters said.
The hurricane is expected to pass near the islands of San Salvador, Cat Island, Eleuthera and Rum Cay late Thursday and early Friday.
It could bring tropical-storm-force winds, coastal flooding and 5-10 inches (13-25 centimeters) of rain, said Geoffrey Greene, a senior forecaster with the Bahamas Meteorology Department.
The center of the storm was projected to be closest to land in the Bahamas about 2 p.m. Thursday, passing east of San Salvador, Greene said.
Schools were ordered closed as of noon Wednesday in parts of the eastern and central Bahamas.
According to forecasters, the storm was to drop about 3-5 inches (8-13 cm) of rain in the central Bahamas, including Long Island and Exuma. The effects will be minimal on New Providence, which includes the capital of Nassau, with scattered showers and thunderstorms.
The US National Hurricane Center forecast showed the storm could approach the US East Coast above North Carolina early next week, but said it was too soon to say what areas would feel the effects of the storm.
“Residents of North Carolina should be paying attention and monitoring the storm. There’s no question,” said Eric Blake, a hurricane specialist with the center.
Meanwhile, rainstorms will likely soon be joined by Hurricane Joaquin in a powerful weather system that could linger for days.
The flood is expected to have the potential to saturate the ground so heavily that trees could topple onto power lines even without heavy winds.
According to the Global Forecasting System, Hurricane Joaquin is projected to make landfall in New Jersey, hitting that state and New York City on Monday.