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Local flood threat remains from coastal system; Hurricane Joaquin’s track shifts farther east

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RICHMOND, Va. -- Hurricane Joaquin continues to batter the Bahamas.  At 5 pm Thursday, winds dropped slightly from 130 mph to 125 mph, changing it from a category four (130-156 mph) to a category three (111-129 mph).

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The updated track from the National Hurricane Center has pushed Joaquin farther east.  As of now, it looks like the United States will miss the brunt of the hurricane.  However, there will still be strong surf along the Mid-Atlantic and southeastern United States coast, causing beach erosion.

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The spaghetti plot of all of the computer models shows the majority of the model tracks following the National Hurricane Center's official track.  However, we still have a few models that bring the storm towards the east coast.   The odds of the storm moving into the Mid-Atlantic is not high, but the chance is also not zero.

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The National Hurricane Center issued four key points about Hurricane Joaquin:

  • Joaquin's slow motion means that extremely dangerous conditions will continue over portions of the warning areas in the Bahamas Friday.
  • The forecast models continue to indicate a track offshore of the U.S. east coast from the Carolinas to the mid-Atlantic states, and the threat of direct impacts from Joaquin in those areas is decreasing.
  • Efforts to provide the forecast models with as much data as possible continue.
  • Even if Joaquin remains offshore, strong onshore winds associated with a frontal system will create minor to moderate coastal flooding along the coasts of the mid-Atlantic and northeastern states through the weekend.

The fourth item mentioned refers to our stubborn weather pattern that continues to produce rainfall throughout the area.  Some of the moisture is being fed up from Joaquin.  Rain will turn more scattered at times over the weekend.  Wind gusts 25-30+ mph will occur in central Virginia and 35-40+ mph along the coast through the weekend.  These wind gusts are being caused by the weather set-up, not from Joaquin.

Localized flooding will continue to be a threat through the weekend due to the amount of rain that has fallen.  The strong wind gusts and higher wave action will cause coastal flooding along the Bay and the Atlantic.

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Sections of the James River, like near Westham, will also be very high. You can get the latest river levels and forecasts here.