MIAMI (AP) – The latest on Joaquin and the storm’s predicted path. All times local:
Forecasters say Hurricane Joaquin has strengthened to “an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane.”
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Thursday afternoon that additional strengthening is expected over the next 24 hours, as the storm moves past the Bahamas, bringing winds, heavy rain, dangerous surf and significant storm surge.
The storm has maximum sustained winds of 130 mph (210 kph) and is moving southwest at 6 mph (9 kph). It is about 70 miles (115 kilometers) south-southeast of San Salvador, Bahamas.
A hurricane watch is in effect for much of the Bahamas and other nearby islands. Forecasters say the center of Joaquin should move over or near portions of the central Bahamas Thursday afternoon and night.
Forecast maps show the storm passing the Bahamas and then making its way toward the U.S. over the next couple of days.
The eye of Hurricane Joaquin is passing over Samana Cays in the Bahamas, and the storm is expected to bring more heavy rain, winds and a significant storm surge as it moves across the Atlantic toward the United States.
Late Thursday morning, Joaquin had maximum sustained winds of 125 mph (205 kph), making it a major Category 3 hurricane.
Joaquin was about 80 miles (125 kilometers) south-southeast of San Salvador. It was moving southwest at 6 mph (9 kph).
Forecasters with the National Hurricane Center in Miami say a hurricane warning is in effect for much of the Bahamas. A hurricane watch is in effect for Bimini and Andros Island.
Forecasters warn people to be prepared for dangerous surf, storm surge, wind and rainfall – up to 15 or 20 inches in some areas.
They also say additional strengthening is possible over the next day, with some fluctuations in intensity possible Friday night and Saturday.
Forecasters say Hurricane Joaquin will batter the central Bahamas with wind and rain through Thursday night, bringing a significant storm surge and dangerous surf.
Early Thursday, Joaquin was about 20 miles (35 kilometers) north of Samana Cays, Bahamas, and 65 miles (105 kilometers) southeast of San Salvador, Bahamas. The Category 3 storm has maximum sustained winds of 120 mph (195 kph) and is moving west-southwest at 5 mph (7 kph).
Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami says a hurricane warning is in effect for the central and northwestern Bahamas. A hurricane watch is in effect for Bimini and Andros Island. A tropical storm warning is in effect for the southeastern Bahamas.
Joaquin, already considered a major hurricane, is expected to strengthen over the next day or two. Forecasters say some fluctuations in intensity are possible Friday.
Track Hurricane Joaquin live with Storm Team 8’s Tropical Tracker