East Coast Warily Watches Hurricane Joaquin Develop

Hoping this isn't another Sandy

So far, the 2015 hurricane season has been pretty quiet, just as NOAA predicted earlier this year. But that doesn't mean its going to stay quiet. Hurricane Joaquin is currently camped out over the Bahamas, moving southwest, but forecasters from NOAA's National Hurricane Center are worried that Joaquin might change course and head north, straight for the East Coast.

And after Sandy devastated the East Coast in 2012, all eyes are on Joaquin, hoping that this storm doesn't end up taking the same destructive path. New York City's Emergency Managment team is on the phone with the National Hurricane Center and other agencies multiple times a day, tracking the storm's progress. The city has made vast improvements to its infrastructure since Sandy hit, but no one really wants to endure a hurricane just to put them to the test.

Joaquin is the tenth named storm of the season, and only the third hurricane. Islands in the Bahamas are currently under hurricane warnings as Joaquin continues to strengthen.

It is still very early for Joaquin. The storm's track is highly uncertain, and it remains entirely possible that Joaquin will veer east and head back out to sea. but in the meantime, weather trackers from NOAA to NASA are keeping close tabs on the storm, collecting some striking data and images.

NASA's Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) satellite captured this 3D look into the center of the storm:

A few main points from NOAA's public advisory issued at 5:00 PM Eastern Time on September 30th:

Preparations to protect life and property within the warning areas in the Bahamas should be rushed to completion. A significant adjustment to the forecast has been made this afternoon, and this shows an increased threat to the mid-Atlantic states and the Carolinas. However, confidence in the details of the forecast after 72 hours remains low, since we have one normally excellent model that keeps Joaquin far away from the United States east coast. The range of possible outcomes is still large, and includes the possibility of a major hurricane landfall in the Carolinas. Because landfall, if it occurs, is still more than three days away, it is too early to talk about specific wind, rain, or surge impacts from Joaquin in the United States. Even if Joaquin stays well out to sea, strong onshore winds will create minor to moderate coastal flooding along the coasts of the mid-Atlantic and northeastern states through the weekend. A hurricane watch for a portion of the U.S. coast could be required as early as Thursday evening.

Hurricane Joaquin Sept. 29

Hurricane Joaquin Sept. 29

Joaquin, as seen from NASA's Aqua satellite September 29 at 2:10 eastern time.NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team
Hurricane Joaquin Sept. 29

Hurricane Joaquin Sept. 29

A 3-D model of Hurricane Joaquin's rainfall patterns on September 29 at 5:39 PM eastern time.SSAI/NASA/JAXA, Hal Pierce
Hurricane Joaquin, September 30

Hurricane Joaquin, September 30

An infrared look at Hurricane Joaquin taken by NASA's Aqua satellite at 2:11 pm eastern. The coolest temperatures, in purple, represent the tallest clouds. Joaquin currently appears to be strengthening.NASA JPL, Ed Olsen