Hurricane Joaquin strengthened once again early Thursday, packing 120 mph winds as it powered towards on the Bahamas while the East Coast prepared for a weekend soaking from a second storm.
The major hurricane, which earlier became a Category 3, was about 65 miles southeast of San Salvador at 5 a.m. ET, moving at about 5 mph.

Different forecast models predict Joaquin will either veer northwestward, ramming into Virginia, Maryland or North Carolina this weekend, or avoid the East Coast entirely as it takes a more easterly track up the Atlantic. Overnight, the American model trended towards the European model in predicting that the storm would not make landfall in the U.S.
Regardless of Joaquin’s path, the Carolinas and Virginia appeared in line for historic rainfall caused by a separate storm pulling tropical air into the region. Between 10 and 15 inches of rain was forecast over a 72-hour period, while parts of Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey were also expected to be drenched.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Wednesday declared a state of emergency, and North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory ordered state agencies to prepare for floods.
“I cannot stress enough the imperative for Virginians to focus on the rainstorms that are headed our way [Thursday] and Friday, well before Hurricane Joaquin could potentially impact Virginia,” McAuliffe said. “The forecast of up to 10 inches of rain in areas across Virginia could result in floods, power outages and a serious threat to life and property.”
In Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, officials were hoping sandbags protect the town if the hurricane strikes the Outer Banks. “It could be some resemblance of what Sandy offered us, and we’ve learned some lessons from that,” Kitty Hawk Mayor Gary Perry told NBC station WAVY.

In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said: “Our state has seen the damage that extreme weather can cause time and time again — and I am urging New Yorkers to take precautions for more heavy storms in the coming days.”
Joaquin’s path depends in part on whether a separate storm system forming over the southeastern U.S. is close enough to Joaquin to pull it towards the East Coast, Weather Channel senior meteorologist Kevin Roth said.
If the southeastern storm is farther away, closer to Alabama, the storm system could instead push the hurricane away from the East Coast and out to sea, he said.
“Anybody from, I would say, Charleston, South Carolina, all the …Read More