Hurricane JOAQUIN headed for an east coast landfall
Aerial surveillance is now showing JOAQUIN has formed an eye confirming an undoubted hurricane status. An hour ago, the storm was centred about 180 miles east of Grand Bahama. Wind shear has relaxed, and the storm is now moving over very warm water. This is storm fuel. These two combined factors, along with another 24 hours or more of slow bodily motion to the south-west is allowing this cyclone off the leash and it will become at least a category three hurricane with 110 knot winds after 24 hours. As the storm has yet to turn from its current heading, there remains great uncertainty as to its subsequent track but it will continue to the south-west until Friday before turning hard a' starboard and accelerating towards a landfall somewhere on the east coast. As the storm brushes the outer banks, it may lose a little energy but only as far as category two. Modellers are all over the place thereafter, but the current consensus is ‘somewhere between Cape Hatteras and New Jersey' late on Sunday but with some wild cards being shown ranging from Charleston to Reykjavik. The Friday turn will be the deciding factor. If the turn is late, this could make its landfall in North Carolina or Virginia early on Sunday as a category two hurricane.
The current hurricane severity rating is 8 out of a possible 50 points (3 size, 5 intensity) and a predicted peak of 25 out of a possible 50 points (13 size, 12 intensity). Over the last 12 hours, JOAQUIN has spread its windfield having previously been a rather smaller than average hurricane and is conversely, now set to be larger than average and comparisons are being made with the wind gradient of SANDY. With bad luck, this has the potential to be a very unpleasant cyclone.
The last knockings of IDA are drifting aimlessly around 300 miles north-east of the northernmost Leeward Islands. There is still a chance that this may build a head of steam again and become a depression again in 2 to 3 days, however most observers indicate that this will remain weak and not affect any land areas.
Hurricane alert from Charleston to New Jersey and stand by Bahamas.