Hurricane JOAQUIN update

Hurricane JOAQUIN is currently centred just 55 miles south-east of San Salvador island, moving south-west at little more than jogging pace. New aircraft reconnaissance data indicates that maximum sustained winds have increased to 110 knots and are strengthening. The current windfield radius is 120 miles but expected to almost double over the coming hours. It is highly likely that JOAQUIN will become a destructive cat 4 hurricane as it moves slowly through the Bahamas with winds of up to 125 knots. Expended energy ashore will cause a little weakening but is still likely to leave the Bahamas in its wake as a category 3 hurricane and will remain so to landfall – if it makes one - on the eastern seaboard.

The current hurricane severity rating is 18 out of a possible 50 points (6 size, 12 intensity) and a predicted peak of 30 out of a possible 50 points (17 size, 12 intensity), which is broadly speaking comparable with hurricane ANDREW in 1992 at the time of its second landfall in southern Louisiana (16 size, 11 intensity).

Landfall is still in the lap of the Gods and there remains plenty of uncertainty amongst the forecasters for the storm's track after turning. A small group of European modellers have JOAQUIN turning away from the eastern seaboard altogether, otherwise most money is on a landfall in North Carolina on Sunday afternoon with options for all stops north towards New Jersey, albeit less likely now than it was 12 hours ago.

Some pretty strong language is being used to describe JOAQUIN from commentators not usually given to overstatement. Areas of ‘near total destruction' of property in the Bahamas, ‘historic flooding' on the eastern seaboard, ‘near and to the north of where the eye makes landfall, a dangerous and potentially life-threatening tidal surge is expected to cause significant damage to structures along the coastline' and ‘very heavy rainfall is expected to cause widespread flooding problems. This includes areas that are well inland. The heaviest rain will begin on Friday and end late Monday.

This is a nasty hurricane.

In summary,

1. A destructive hurricane is imminent for the central Bahamas
2. The chance of JOAQUIN missing the United States is marginally higher, based on the view of the European modellers.
3. The sooner JOAQUIN moves away from the Bahamas, the greater the likelihood that it will impact the United States
4. The forecast remains highly uncertain. Landfall, if it occurs, could potentially occur anywhere from southern North Carolina to Long Island.
5. If JOAQUIN does move toward the United States, it is expected to be a destructive hurricane.

Stand by.