Friday, October 2, 2015

Joaquin Likely Heading Out To Sea; U.S. Is Screwed Anyway

Powerful Hurricane Joaquin has been battering the Bahamas
for more than a day now. Here it is this morning still
smashing the islands. 
Powerful Hurricane Joaquin battered the Bahamas for a good 24 hours or more since yesterday with 130 mph winds, so it's a huge disaster there.

Reports from the islands are still sketchy, since the storm is still raging, but there are no immediate reports of deaths, which is good. 

But the destruction has to be immense, and imagine being in winds of 100 mph or more for a day or so, not just a couple hours. 

So scary and I hope everyone in the Bahamas comes through this OK.

Meanwhile, up in the United States, people are breathing something of a sigh of relief since most computer models now keep Joaquin well offshore.

There's still a slight chance Joaquin could clip Cape Cod or Nova Scotia but the threat of a huge direct hit is over.

You'd think this is terrific news, and it is, since the East Coast will escape the possibility of getting slammed by a full-throttle major hurricane.

But overall, the news isn't good.

Meteorologists are still expecting an epic flood in the Carolinas and parts of the Mid-Atlantic states from a separate storm that will in part be fueled by moisture siphoned off of Hurricane Joaquin.

This isn't going to be your standard issue flood. It'll probably be a lot worse. One computer model predicts a whopping 18 inches of rain to come down on part of South Carolina.

I'm not sure there will be that much, but it's certainly plausible. I think we'll easily see over a foot of rain in some areas. Local forecasters said several Carolina cities will break records for their wettest Octobers, and do that in just that first five days of the month.

A strong pressure gradient between a very strong high pressure system over Quebec and the Carolina storms and Joaquin will make things worse. A strong pressure gradient just means there's a big difference in air pressure over a given area, in this case, the East Coast.

When there's a strong pressure gradient, there's a lot of wind. And since the wind is from the east, and extending over a wide expanse of the Atlantic Ocean, it's pushing a lot of water toward the coast.

That means there's going to be a lot of coastal flooding. Since this weather pattern will hold in place through the weekend, that means repeated bouts of flooding high tides and beach erosion. To make it worse, many coastal areas in the Mid-Atlantic states are under high wind warnings and watches.

Places were rivers meet the oceans are really in trouble. The east winds will try to push water upstream and inland, while great gushes of water from the heavy rains try to come downstream. Where the two meet on these rivers will cause incredible floods.

With all this going on, states of emergency are already in effect in several states, including the Carolinas and New Jersey.

Joaquin will miss the U.S. mainland, but this could still be a billion dollar disaster in terms of flooding and wind and high tides along the East Coast.

Here's a brief video of how Joaquin looked on Crooked Island, Bahamas:

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