Hur­ri­cane Joaquin sweep­ing across cen­tral, eastern Ba­hamas

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY BEN FOX

Pow­er­ful Hur­ri­cane Joaquin bore down Thurs­day on the lightly pop­u­lated is­lands of the cen­tral and eastern Ba­hamas and fore­cast­ers said it could grow more in­tense while fol­low­ing a path that would near the U.S. east coast by the week­end.

Some mi­nor flood­ing and storm surge were re­ported, but there were no im­me­di­ate re­ports of ca­su­al­ties or sig­nif­i­cant dam­age as the storm reached the is­land chain, said Capt. Stephen Rus­sell, the di­rec­tor of the Ba­hamas Na­tional Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency.

Is­lands such as San Salvador, Cat Is­land and Rum Cay were ex­pected to ex­pe­ri­ence the most sig­nif­i­cant ef­fects be­fore the storm be­gins an ex­pected shift to­ward the fore­cast­ers said

Joaquin was a Cat­e­gory 3 storm with max­i­mum sus­tained winds of 195 kph (120 mph) and hur­ri­cane strength winds ex­tend­ing 55 kilo­me­ters ( 35 miles) from the eye, the U.S. Na­tional Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter in Mi­ami, Florida said. As of 8 a.m. EDT, the cen­ter of the storm was about 15 kilo­me­ters (10 miles) north of Sa­mana Cays, Ba­hamas, and mov­ing west-south­west at 7 kph (5 mph).

The storm was pre­dicted to turn to the north and north­west to­ward the United States late Thurs­day or Fri­day, but fore­cast­ers were still gath­er­ing data to de­ter­mine how it might af­fect the U.S.

“There’s still a dis­tinct pos­si­bil­ity

north, that his could make land­fall some­where in the U.S.,” said Dennis Felt­gen, a me­te­o­rol­o­gist and hur­ri­cane cen­ter spokesman.

On Eleuthera, a nar­row strip to the north of Cat Is­land, peo­ple re­moved stray co­conuts and other de­bris from their yards and put up storm shut­ters in blus­tery winds, said Chris Gosling, who runs a vol­un­teer am­bu­lance ser­vice on the is­land. Is­lan­ders have learned from past storms not to take chances.

“Peo­ple don’t panic too much. There’s noth­ing you can do about it. If it comes, it comes, and you do what you can,” said Gosling, who has lived on Eleuthera for 27 years. “If the forecast is right we will get some wind and rain and it will go back out to sea.”

The Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter said parts of the Ba­hamas could see storm surge rais­ing sea lev­els as much as 2.4 me­ters above nor­mal, with 250 to 380 mil­lime­ters of rain fall­ing on the cen­tral Ba­hamas.

The U.S. Na­tional Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter’s long-term forecast showed the storm could near the U.S. east coast along the eastern U.S. states of North Carolina and Vir­ginia on Sun­day.

“Res­i­dents of the Caroli­nas north should be pay­ing at­ten­tion and mon­i­tor­ing the storm. There’s no ques­tion,” said Eric Blake, a hur­ri­cane spe­cial­ist with the cen­ter. “If your hur­ri­cane plans got a lit­tle dusty be­cause of the light hur­ri­cane sea­son, now is a good time to up­date them.”

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