10.03.15

Hurricane Joaquin Strengthens to Near Category Five Strength

Posted in Storm Track, Storm Facts, Storm Aftermath, GWC News, Storm Warning, Hurricane Intensity, Tracking the Tropics at 9:14 pm by gmachos

Hurricane Hunters Find Category Four Storm Much Stronger on Saturday Afternoon

Saturday brought with it some good news for those living in the Bahamas.  After Hurricane Joaquin pummeled the archipelago for the better part of three days, the storm began to pull away.  However as Joaquin began to push to the north and east toward Bermuda, the storm dramatically intensified during the afternoon hours.  Hurricane Hunter aircraft discovered Joaquin much stronger with winds of 155 miles per hour, or just a shade under Category Five intensity on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.

The storm reached this new intensity peak during the mid-afternoon hours, and has since weakened to 145 mile per hour winds as of the 8:00 PM EDT Advisory on Saturday evening from the National Hurricane Center.  Barometric pressure, which had been as low as 931 millibars, or 27.49 inches of Hg a couple days ago, now has a barometric pressure of 933 millibars, or 27.55 inches.  Joaquin has been picking up in forward speed to the Northeast at 18 miles per hour.  Currently, the Category Four Hurricane is located some 550 miles to the Southwest of Bermuda.

As Joaquin moves away from the Bahamas, pictures and video are coming out of the island chain that are showing the power, fury, and devastation from the storm.  Pictures out of Exuma and Long Island show significant damage.  Video of the storm’s power as it raked San Salvador showed palm trees leaning heavily to one side under the weight of the high winds that blew through the island for the better part of 48 hours.   Wayne Neely, a meteorologist for the Bahamas, indicated earlier today on Facebook that as many as 30 people may have died on Long Island, and so far 8 deaths have been confirmed there. An overhead photo from the island shows heavily damaged homes surrounded by water.

Next stop for Joaquin is the resort island of Bermuda, where a Tropical Storm Warning and a Hurricane Watch are in effect.  The storm is expected to turn to the North-Northeast on Sunday, and that will take it just to the west of the island, which could still see hurricane force conditions.  The NHC cautions though that a slight deviation in Joaquin’s storm track to the east could bring more significant winds to Bermuda.  Meanwhile, the storm is still playing an indirect role in the weather here in New Jersey, and down the Eastern Seaboard as far south as South Carolina.  The tight pressure gradient between Joaquin and high pressure coming down from Canada, and another system is creating a tremendous easterly fetch that is stirring up the waters along coastal communities up and down the East Coast.

The Weather Channel is reporting from North Charleston, South Carolina, where tremendous flooding is occurring.  TWC has reporters wading through high waters in the streets of North Charleston.  Further north, in Cape May County, New Jersey, waters are rising in places like Wildwood, where significant flooding could occur when high tide comes in at midnight there.  A little bit further north in the Garden State on Long Beach Island in Ocean County, extensive tidal flooding is occurring.  Storm surge maps are showing surge rises of up to 3 feet above normal from Delaware Bay up to Seaside Heights.  GWC was over at Waterfront Park in South Amboy, where there was also a good easterly fetch driving waves ashore, and bringing gusty winds that had the US flag there flapping wildly.

On Friday afternoon and evening, the rain was at its worst across the Garden State.  Driven by a fairly steady wind, moderate to heavy rain fell from about 4:00 PM on Friday afternoon to well past 9:30 PM on Friday evening. High School football games went on as scheduled across New Jersey although a number of them including several in Middlesex County were moved up earlier to avoid players and fans having to deal with extreme weather conditions.  However, fans at the early games still had to go through some difficulty.  According to the NHC’s latest forecast track, Joaquin will make its closest approach to New Jersey on Monday afternoon as a hurricane.  So, residents up and down the Jersey Shore should expect the easterly fetch to continue and the elevated water levels, rip currents, and heavy surf to persist for the next 40 hours or so.

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