NASSAU –– The islands of the Bahamas are now under either hurricane watch or warning as Joaquin strengthened into a hurricane this morning, continuing on a track that will see it passing near or over the archipelago tonight and into tomorrow.
Residents were expected to begin feeling the effects of the hurricane from about midday today.
The Category 1 hurricane, carrying maximum sustained winds of about 75 miles per hour and expected to strengthen over the next 48 hours, is about 245 miles east north-east of the central Bahamas.
A hurricane warning is in effect for the central Bahamas, including Cat Island, the Exumas, Long Island, Rum Cay,
and San Salvador.
A hurricane watch is in effect for north-western Bahamas, including the Abacos, Berry Islands, Bimini, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island, and New Providence, but excluding Andros Island.
Hurricane Joaquin is moving toward the south-west near six miles per hour and a general motion toward the west-south-west or south-west is expected to continue through tonight, with a turn towards the west and a decrease in forward speed forecast for tomorrow, the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) in Miami said.
“On the forecast track, the centre of Joaquin is expected to move near or over portions of the central Bahamas tonight and Thursday,” it said, adding that
hurricane conditions were expected to reach portions of the central Bahamas by midday today.
“Winds are expected to first reach tropical storm strength in the warning area tonight, making outside preparations difficult or dangerous. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion,” the NHC said.
“A dangerous storm surge will raise water levels by as much as two to four feet above normal tide levels in areas of onshore flow. Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and dangerous waves.”
Joaquin is also expected to produce five to ten inches of rain with isolated maximum amounts of 15 inches possible over San Salvador and Rum Cay through Friday morning, and rainfall amounts of three to five inches are possible over the remainder of the central Bahamas through Friday morning, with two to four inches expected over the north-western and south-eastern Bahamas.
The NHC added that swells generated by Joaquin would affect portions of the Bahamas during the next few days, and would begin to affect portions of the east coast of Florida and the south-east coast of the United States by Friday.
It warned that these swells were likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.