It is looking like Hurricane Joaquin will indeed target the East Coast of the United States. Six out of eight forecast models show Hurricane Joaquin making landfall along the East Coast. The winds of this storm is not the major issue or fear as far as potential damage goes, rather it is the massive amount of rainfall predicted. Indeed several states are already experiencing flooding, Such as Portland, Maine and Cambridge, MA.
These forecast models can change every single day I should point out. For example just yesterday the GFS model predicted Hurricane Joaquin making landfall in the Carolina’s, yet this same model today has Hurricane Joaquin going out to sea a little. Most models at this time however point to Hurricane Joaquin making direct landfall along the eastern seaboard. Residents of the East Coast in any area prone to flooding would be well advised to have emergency plans in place, and have an escape route, as well as any needed emergency supplies.
No matter if it makes landfall or not, such as how the European forecast model shows, it will still have major effects on the East Coast. Most notably due the the massive rainfall, some of which as mentioned is already punching areas of the East Coast. If the European model is correct, and Hurricane Joaquin makes it way out to sea, the East Coast could see a punishing amount of wind strike the coast. Combined with torrential rains, this has the potential to cause a swath of wide spread devastation and economic impact for more than a dozen states along the eastern seaboard. Beach erosion is also predicted, whether for not Hurricane Joaquin makes landfall.
The major danger of this storm is the record rains that will happen, and already have started in large portions of the East Coast. Even mudslides and landslides are predicted along the East Coast. Winds are relatively high in the Bahamas right now, but this can change. Several states are expected to receive over 8 inches of record rainfall, with poor Fayetteville North Carolina and Wilmington slated to receive anywhere from at least 12 inches to as much as 18 inches of rainfall. With this rain, timing is one of the key issues, as much of this rain will fall in just a short period of time, causing massive flooding and flash flooding across several states and locations. The good news is that most forecast models do predict the winds lessening as every day passes towards the weekend. Monday for example the winds are expected to die down to about 85 miles per hour.
The problem with hurricanes is that early data can often change. The Air Force is continuing to fly storm chasing aircraft into the heart of the Hurricane to gather data for the forecast models. More information will become available on this site, as forecast models get updated.