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Update 10/01/15, 9:52 a.m.: Hurricane Joaquin has strengthened to a Category 3 storm overnight as it continues to linger near the Bahamas.
The National Weather Service remains confident that the storm will turn north within the next several days, but it is unclear whether it will make landfall in the eastern United States or turn out to sea.
Regardless of how direct the impact, the Historic Triangle will see heavy rain through the weekend and remain at risk for flooding.
If Joaquin continues to hover around the Bahamas the brunt of its impact on coastal Virginia will be slightly delayed from the original forecast, with the full strength of the storm likely to felt in this region on Sunday and Monday of next week.
Original Post: Tropical Storm Joaquin has strengthened into a category one hurricane and the East Coast should remain alert to possible developments with the storm over the next several days, according to the National Weather Service.
Coupled with the heavy rainfall that coastal Virginia will continue to experience in advance of the storm – the result of moisture building up along a coastal cold front – the approach of Joaquin sets the stage for possible severe flooding.
The storm, which as of Wednesday night was moving southwest toward the central Bahamas with wind speeds of up to 75 miles per hour, is expected to take a turn to the north in the next 48 hours and may travel up the East Coast toward Virginia.
The Historic Triangle and the rest of coastal Virginia are currently under a coastal flood watch, which will last through Saturday. Though less severe than a coastal flood warning, people who live near areas prone to flooding are advised to keep an eye on the situation and be prepared to take action if flooding should occur.
According to the National Weather Service, residents of the Historic Triangle should expect to see heavy rainfall Thursday through Saturday due to the cold front, and then more heavy rainfall when Hurricane Joaquin is on course to impact the mid-Atlantic region Saturday night through Sunday night. Storm total rainfall is predicted to range from 7 to 10 inches.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe has declared a state of emergency, retroactively effective as of the evening of Sept. 29. The declaration empowers state and local emergency responders to begin to prepare for the effects of Hurricane Joaquin.
The National Weather Service recommends people familiarize themselves with their evacuation route, create an emergency plan and put together an emergency supply kit that includes a battery-powered radio, flashlight, first aid kit, moist towelettes, garbage bags, manual can opener, and a three-day supply of food and water for each person.
To track the storm’s progress, click here. To learn more about hurricane safety and preparedness, click here.