Hurricane Joaquin closes in on central Bahamas

Published 9:07 am Thursday, October 1, 2015

MIAMI — Hurricane Joaquin gained power as it bore down on the central Bahamas early today, and forecasters said it was likely to grow into a major storm while following a path that would near the U.S. East Coast by the weekend.

Some minor damage was reported by Bahamas officials late Wednesday, and islanders rushed to prepare for storm surges and heavy rain from the approaching Joaquin. Authorities said the center was likely to pass near or over several islands during the night and today.

Joaquin was a Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph (185 kph) and hurricane strength winds extending 35 miles (55 kilometers) from the eye late Wednesday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said. The center of the storm was about 170 miles (275 kilometers) east of the central Bahamas and moving southwest at 6 mph (9 kph).

Email newsletter signup

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 trying to determine how it might affect the U.S.

“We’ve got Air Force reconnaissance planes continuously giving us data from inside the hurricane this morning, and we’re going to be throwing a lot more aircraft resources at this problem over the next few days because it still is not certain whether or not Joaquin will directly impact the U.S. East Coast or stay out to sea,” said Rick Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center.