Hurricane Joaquin has become slow moving near the Bahamas and yesterday strengthened to category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. It is now the strongest Atlantic hurricane in terms of central pressure since Hurricane Igor in 2010. It has brought flooding rains to many of the islands and winds well in excess of 100 mph. Joaquin is likely to stay close to the Bahamas for another 24 hours or so before starting to move north.
Yesterday’s blog described three possible scenarios of where Joaquin could go once it starts moving away from the Bahamas. Since then there have been some significant changes in guidance from the various forecast models used to predict both the track and intensity of the hurricane. The likelihood of a turn north-westwards towards the US coast has now significantly diminished. Joaquin is now likely to move north and then north-eastwards into open waters of the Atlantic. However, there is still some uncertainty as to the extent of the north-eastwards turn and thus how close Joaquin comes to the east coasts of both the USA and Canada. Even if Joaquin stays well offshore, there could be dangerous rip currents along the coast and heavy flooding rains from a separate weather system currently affecting the eastern side of the USA.
If the turn of Joaquin to the north-east is a fairly sharp one then attention will turn to affects on the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda situated in the Atlantic Ocean. In 2014 hurricanes Fay and Gonzalo passed over the island in quick succession and it is possible that Joaquin could do the same. By then Joaquin is likely to be weakening and any impacts will depend on exactly how close to the island the hurricane tracks.
In the longer term there are indications that Joaquin will move to higher latitudes and head eastwards across the Atlantic. However, it is too early to be sure if it will have any impacts on Western Europe including the UK. There is, however, already high confidence that we will return to more autumnal and unsettled conditions across the UK early next week. Make sure you keep up-to-date with the Met Office five-day forecast.
Official warnings for the latest tropical cyclones in the Atlantic are produced by the US National Hurricane Center. The Met Office routinely supplies predictions of cyclone tracks from its global forecast model to regional meteorological centres worldwide, which are used along with guidance from other models in the production of forecasts and guidance. We also provide updates on current tropical storms via @metofficestorms on Twitter.