Tropical storm Joaquin has now officially been upgraded to Hurricane Joaquin, a category 4 hurricane with winds clocking in as high as 115 miles per hour. Right now it is still just off the Bahamas, and several islands are taking a pounding. Nassau for example has been punishing rains and winds, and expert forecasters predict that this Hurricane will grow even more intense before traveling a path which nears the U.S East Coast. Luckily so far in the Bahamas there have been no reported casualties as yet.
The effects are already being felt on the East Coast of the United states. There is already a high tropical moisture count along the east coast. Some areas along the East Coast are expected to get a foot or more of rain, before the storm even hits the coast, if it’s path does indeed cause it to make landfall in the U.S.A. Charleston for example is predicting 12 to 18″ of rain, while Asheville is expecting 5 to 8″ of rain. Portland, Maine is already flooding due to this storm. Cambridge ma has already experienced flooding problems due to the rain as well. Indeed all along the East Coast, the effects of this storm are readily apparent.
Several East Coast states already have flood advisories ongoing. It only takes 3 inches of rain to fall in one hour to cause flash flooding. Areas in 15 states have ongoing flash flood advisories. The potential for massive amounts of water damage, not seen since Hurricane Sandy looms overhead. Several states are experiencing a feeling of deja vu, as Hurricane Joaquin nears the U.S coast. It remains to be seen how this storm will play out. One thing is certain, and that is heavy rains will continue till as late as Monday, Oct 5th along much of the East Coast of the United States.
One key difference between Sandy and Hurricane Joaquin is rainfall. Rainfall was not so much of an issue with Sandy, it was more the high winds which caused so much devastation with Sandy. With Hurricane Joaquin however, rainfall is and will continue to be a major issue. This is due a combination of a stalling frontal boundary combined with a intense layer of tropically moist air flowing into and over, and around it, from either the Hurricane itself or another non-tropical low. This is already resulting in widespread torrential rainfall. There are factors at play which is left unchecked will result in torrential rains hitting a much larger area than Sandy. A swath of moist air from the Gulf Of Mexico is already causing major flooding in some areas of Virginia and North Carolina.
The condition are ripe for wide spread water damage across much of the East Coast. Several computer models have shown that several states could receive between 5 to 10 inches or more of rain, in but a short time. Residents of the East Coast are advised to have plans in place for emergencies related to flash flooding and flooding in general.