Hurricane Joaquin Update: East Coast Prepares for ‘Extremely Dangerous’ Storm
Significant Travel Delays Forecast Through Early Next Week
An “extremely dangerous” Category 4 hurricane is currently battering the central Bahamas and possibly on a path that could cause significant damage and flooding along the East Coast of the United States, according to reports from the National Hurricane Center.
Joaquin has had maximum sustained winds up to 130 mph (209 km/h) thus far and the storm is likely to strengthen in the next 24 hours.
The storm’s resemblance to Hurricane Sandy, which killed over 117 people in the United States and 69 more in Canada and the Carribean, is on the minds of state officials from South Carolina to New England as they urge residents to be prepared. Sandy, which struck at the end of October in 2012, first hit the Carribean before pounding the Northeast.
Joaquin’s storm surge, which is currently raising sea levels five to ten feet in the Bahamas, could reach those levels or more when it reaches the East Coast at the start of the coming week. Sandy caused a 13-foot storm surge to New York City in 2012.
At the same time Joaquin is heading north, a separate storm is pulling tropical air into the Mid-Atlantic states including Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia and anywhere from 10” to 15” of rain has been forecast for Friday through Sunday, with as much as 20” in some regions.
Heavy rain was already falling in the region late Wednesday and officials reported that at least one person died in flash floods in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
The weather is causing significant flight delays: on Thursday, over 4,000 flights were delayed in the United States according to Flightstats, a flight information service, and most were due to the heavy rain along the Eastern Seaboard. That trend was due to continue through the beginning of the week.
While it’s far from clear as to whether the hurricane will hit the Eastern Seaboard, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Virginia declared states of emergency, a move that allows state and local emergency responders to prepare for the aftermath of Joaquin.
“We are not quite sure if this is going to be a single punch or a double punch,” New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told reporters Thursday at a news conference.
(Photo: Accura Media Group)