While Hurricane Joaquin could still make landfall in the United States, the hurricane will bring major impacts to the East Coast and inland areas even if the center of the storm remains at sea.
People should not let their guard down due to a shifting track of the hurricane as the risk to lives and property in this complex situation remains high.
A copious amount of moisture will unload very heavy rainfall along parts of the Atlantic Seaboard and the Appalachians into early next week. Strong winds, coastal flooding and beach erosion will occur and could be very damaging even in the absence of a landfall.
Hurricane Joaquin strengthened rapidly Wednesday into Thursday. Joaquin reached Category 3 status late Wednesday evening. The storm is now expected reach Category 4 status before Friday.
The storm will bring pounding surf, dangerous seas, strong winds, drenching squalls and flash flooding to the central Bahamas. Wind gusts could reach between 75 and 100 mph on some of the islands.
As a result, Joaquin will threaten lives and property in the Bahamas into Friday. Bahamasair has canceled flights for Thursday in parts of the islands.
Joaquin will turn to the north this weekend.
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe issued a state of emergency on Wednesday night throughout the entire state in response to the recent flooding and in preparation for Joaquin.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie followed suit with a State of Emergency on Thursday morning.
Joaquin has strengthened significantly and continues to hover near the Bahamas on Thursday. This delay has altered the forecast track. Other weather systems impacting Joaquin will be in slightly different positions as a result.
Joaquin will move northward much of this weekend, roughly paralleling the East coast. There is nearly equal possibility the storm will make landfall along the mid-Atlantic coast, the New England coast or veer out to sea.
Due to the potential close proximity of the hurricane to the coast, people from the Carolinas to Massachusetts will need to closely monitor the track and strength of Joaquin for high wind and coastal flooding concerns.