The National Hurricane Center's most recent update forecasts Hurricane Joaquin to track farther east than previous forecasts. This change reflects eastward shifts in various models, such as HWRF, GFS and UKMET, to reflect solutions closer to the ECMWF (European) model, which all along has been predicting Joaquin to take an eastward turn. While thisMore
Joaquin remains a dangerous Category 4 hurricane early Friday afternoon, with strongest sustained winds at 130 mph, and it continues to lash the Bahamas.
A slow movement to the north has developed, and an acceleration to the northeast is expected Friday night. No dramatic change in strength is expected in the next 24 hours, but some weakening should follow afterwards.
Most of Friday morning’s computer simulations continue the trend of Thursday, holding the hurricane away from the United States. Until this storm finally makes a definitive turn east, however, it is still best to monitor it closely.
Perhaps most frustrating to meteorologists, the vast majority of computer simulations have changed dramatically over the last couple of days. As recently as Wednesday, several of these simulations, or models, indicated that Joaquin would turn westward into the United States.
The most dramatic outlier of the models was the one from the European Center for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF), based in Reading, UK. The ECMWF forecast has been much more consistent over the past three days, keeping Joaquin offshore from the United States.
Famously, the ECMWF was the earliest to forecast accurately the track of Sandy into the Northeast in 2012. This will likely rekindle the discussion, at least in meteorological circles, about why the American global model, the Global Forecast System (GFS), is not as accurate in these high-profile weather situations. Having said that, it is important to realize that no model is correct all the time, and there have been instances in the past where the GFS has outperformed the ECMWF.
The National Hurricane Center’s official forecast follows the trend of the models, keeping the hurricane offshore through this weekend, then sending it to the North Atlantic. However, heavy rain and coastal flooding are still expected on the East Coast this weekend.
With the hurricane to the south, and a big cell of high pressure over southeastern Canada, a strong squeeze of wind will occur between these two centers. As a result, a broad fetch of east winds will push water into the East Coast Friday and Saturday. The result will be significant coastal flooding from South Carolina to New Jersey.
Specific amounts of flooding along the coast will vary from place to place, but 3-6 feet of coastal flooding is a general estimate for those areas, although some places will have a few feet more. Sustained winds of 20-40 mph will be common along the coast into the weekend, however, some gusts to 50 mph are likely.
In concert with those winds, a separate system is forecast to bring intense rain from the Delmarva Peninsula to South Carolina, so inland areas should also be prepared for serious flooding, perhaps even catastrophic flooding. The Palmetto State appears to be in the path of the heaviest rain this weekend, where upwards of a foot of rain could fall before the weekend comes to a close.