East coast US dodges the JOAQUIN bullet
Category four hurricane JOAQUIN is currently hammering away at the central Bahamas with wind speeds of between 115 and 135 knots (a paint stripping 130 to 155 miles per hour) with a wind field radius of 210 miles. The current hurricane severity index rating is at peak now at 28 out of a possible 50 points (16 size, 13 intensity) This is comparable to IKE which made landfall at 27 (10 for intensity and 17 for size.)
I've been bored this season, but wouldn't wish this on anyone.
There is some good news. The cyclone is undergoing eye wall replacement, which is a normal phase in the life of a hurricane andcauses fluctuations in intensity. As this is coincident with landfall which saps energy, it may cause a slight weakening. Satellite data an hour ago indicated that JOAQUIN is showing early signs of weakening although hurricane status will continue for some days. All that may be a little late for the people in the Bahamas.
Brighter news for the eastern seaboard is that JOAQUIN seems to have turned and is starting to creep north. As a consequence, the consensus modellers now seem to be siding with the European modellers and offering a wide turn over the weekend and a track to the east of the eastern seaboard. This considerably reduces the chances of a landfall in the continental United States. Let's hear it for the Europeans - although one or two maverick commentators including the Canadian guy are still hell bent on North Carolina. At present, JOAQUIN is still moving at little more than walking pace, but we can all breathe a sigh of relief when the storm begins to accelerate to the north-east.
This is a nasty hurricane and very bad news for the Bahamas today. Slow ground speed just prolongs the agony.
The most likely scenario is that Joaquin will remain east of the United States and a weather watch may be needed in Bermuda, although consensus tracks put the centre of the storm dead centre between Bermuda and the eastern seaboard.
If JOAQUIN were to make a landfall in the US, it will be a destructive hurricane. Even if it doesn't, strong onshore winds and very heavy rain will cause some coastal flooding along the coasts of the mid-Atlantic and north-eastern states through the weekend.
All hands to the pumps in the Bahamas and stand by eastern seaboard.