Hurricane Joaquin drifting to the Bahamas, but path remains uncertain

Hurricane Joaquin strengthened to a category 2 Wednesday evening as it approached the central islands of the Bahamas, following a projected track that would take it near the U.S. East Coast by the weekend.

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Joaquin strengthened into a major hurricane on Wednesday night, the U.S. National Hurricane Center announced.

At 11 a.m. Wednesday, Joaquin was in the Atlantic about 215 miles northeast of the central Bahamas, crawling southwest at 6 mph with top winds of 80 mph.

“Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion”, the hurricane center said about the Bahamas on Wednesday.

A turn to the north and northwest toward the United States was expected late Thursday or Friday, but forecasters were still gathering data trying to determine how it might affect the U.S.

MIAMI (AP) – Tropical Storm Joaquin formed in the Atlantic on Monday, becoming the 10th named storm of the season, while Hurricane Marty ambled toward the south-central coast of Mexico in the eastern Pacific.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency on Wednesday afternoon in advance of heavy rains and Hurricane Joaquin.

Joaquin is about 175 miles east northeast of the Central Bahamas.

Another round of heavy rain could cause problems late this weekend depending on the storm’s path.

“A significant adjustment to the forecast has been made this afternoon, and this shows an increased threat to the mid-Atlantic states and the Carolinas”, the National Hurricane Center said in a forecast discussion.

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Andros Island, the Southeastern Bahamas including the Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay, the Inaguas, Mayaguana, and the Ragged Islands, but excluding the Turks and Caicos Islands.

“We will have a much better idea tomorrow of how it moves north”, said Bill Simpson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton, adding that the storm has a “tremendous amount of variability”. Another 1-3 inches of rain on Friday may produce more urban and street flooding too.

“Heavy rains are likely to continue over these areas, even if the center of Joaquin stays out to sea”, he said.

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As for Joaquin, Lipton advised people to check for the most recent updates to the storm’s path before committing to plans.

Rainfall Totals Since Sept. 23