Hurricane Joaquin, currently located at 24.3 North and 73.1 West, is now has maximum sustained winds of 85 mph with gusts to 105 mph. The minimum central pressure is now 967 millibars.
Here’s a close up of the Bahamas, where Tropical Storm conditions are now beginning to effect some of the islands.
Hurricane Warnings are in effect for the Central Bahamas including Cat Island, the Exumas, Long Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador and for the Northwestern Bahamas including the Abacos, Berry Islands, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island, and New Providence, but excluding Andros Island and Bimini.
The Hurricane Watch for Bimini remains in effect.
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect 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.
Hurricane Hunter planes from both the Air Force and the NOAA are in flight and performing missions in and around Joaquin, and preliminary data supports the continued strengthening of Joaquin in the short term. The warm ocean waters and a environment without much in the way of strong shear is allowing for the intensification to continue and Joaquin is forecast to become a major Hurricane by the end of this weekend. Satellite data continues to show an eye and strong eye wall for Joaquin but that has not had much improvement over the last 6 hours.
The current forecast is for Joaquin to heavily impact the Bahamas before turning North after the ridge pushing him to the Southeast weakens and a strong deep layer trough forms over the Southeastern United States. This will generate steering currents towards the north and push Joaquin away from the Bahamas. This should actually spare the Bahamas of the worst possible conditions of having a powerful hurricane move slowly through the middle of the island chain. From there, model consensus and our forecast are in good agreement that Joaquin will move North to perhaps a slight North Northeast as it moves between the trough and ridge. The trough is forecast to become negatively tilted and begin to pull Joaquin toward the coast by this weekend. Interests in the Outer Banks and Chesapeake Bay areas will need to monitor this closely as long range model data indicates that Joaquin will be very close to the coast by Sunday. As seen in the map above, the model forecasts bring Joaquin up the Chesapeake with a landfall South of Annapolis, however, 4-5 day average error for Hurricane tracks is 150-200 miles so this is by no means a sure thing. The current Firsthand Weather forecast places Joaquin several hundred miles off the coast of the Georgia Florida state line by Saturday afternoon. The divergence in track forecasts from there is simply too great to determine a truly accurate track but interests from North Carolina up through New England should monitor this situation closely and we will continue to bring you the latest in forecast information as it comes in.
Firsthand Weather will have another full update Thursday morning and we thank you for keeping Firsthand Weather as your go to source for accurate weather information.