Thursday, October 1, 2015

Thursday Morning Joaquin Update: Bahamas Screwed, East Coast Worries

Thursday morning visible satellite view of
major Hurricane Joaquin trashing the Bahamas. 
Hurricane Joaquin continued to strengthen steadily yesterday and overnight and now it's a powerhouse major hurricane with sustained winds of 120 mph.

It could strengthen a little more today as it pounds the Bahamas. It's going to be a terrible disaster for them. A slow moving, major hurricane is shredding those islands today.

For the U.S. East Coast, the future of Joaquin is still totally uncertain, and there seems to be some major shifts going on in its forecast track.

I do know Joaquin is evolving into something very, very different than we thought several days ago.

Before we get into the details, three important things:

1. Anyone in the Bahamas should already have gotten their hurricane preparations done. This is going to be a terrible disaster there, with extreme wind damage, giant storm surges and torrential rain.

Yes, I know predictions of forecast tracks of
hurricanes looks a little like this, but the
science of understanding everything about hurricanes
like Joaquin is still ot fully formed.  
2. The forecast for the Mid-Atlantic concerning Joaquin is more uncertain than ever, but what is certain is the area from North Carolina to southern New Jersey is in for torrential rains between now and Monday, no matter what Joaquin does. Expect some major flooding

3. Everybody along the coast from North Carolina all the way up through New England and southeastern Canada ought to keep a close eye on Joaquin.

It's a dangerous storm and there's a chance anybody in these areas could get clobbered. Plus, again with or without Joaquin, most of these areas are in for several days of high tides and beach erosion.

OK, so yesterday all of us weather geeks were talking about the European computer forecasting model, which was telling us Joaquin would stay out to sea and avoid the United States.

Most of the other models turned Joaquin northwestward and had it smashing into the coast somewhere between North Carolina and southern New Jersey.

This morning, the computer forecasting models, fed with oodles of new data provided by a bunch of weather balloon launches, satellite analysis and other cool nerdy stuff, have decided the European model might have been on to something.

That doesn't necessarily mean the Euro was completely right, which presents a serious conundrum for the East Coast. Maybe Joaquin won't go nearly as far east as the Euro was suggesting. For what it's worth, since Monday, the European has been a little better at forecast Joaquin's track than most other models, but that doesn't always mean it will stay correct.
Flooding in Portland, Maine Wednesday. I pretty
much guarantee similar scenes from the Mid-Atlantic
states over the weekend, with or without Joaquin

Some of the models are still insisting Joaquin will smash into North Carolina or Virginia.

Others have a dangerous hurricane heading into heavily populated Long Island and southern New England. Still others have it clipping Cape Cod, while others have it plowing into southeastern Canada.

If it heads north, the winds will weaken with Joaquin as it hits cooler ocean water and strong upper level winds, but it would still be a formidable threat.

The bottom line: Keep watching this thing. If you have coastal property anywhere between North Carolina and southeastern Canada,  batten down the hatches and be ready for coastal flooding and severe beach erosion starting now and lasting through the weekend.

If you're in the Middle Atlantic States, be ready for nasty flooding well in advance of Joaquin, starting today.  Remember, this flooding is going to happen even if Joaquin stays 1,000 miles away.

For thr rest of the East Coast, it is frustrating that still nobody knows where Joaquin will go. That's the nature of hurricane forecasting. Predicting these things has gotten a LOT better in recent years, but we still have much more to learn to forecast these things more accurately and much more in advance.

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