Hurricane Joaquin moving towards Bermuda

Sustained winds speeds at 115 mph


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As Joaquin moves away, focus shifts to search and rescue of the El Faro.

Sunshine will return to the search area today.

Meanwhile, communications were cut to several islands, most of them lightly populated, but there had been no reports of fatalities or injuries, said Capt. Stephen Russell, the director of the Bahamas National Emergency Management Agency.

Residents reached by relatives said they were "trapped in their homes, and reported feeling as if their structures were caving in," Russell said. "It's too dangerous to go outside because the flood waters are so high, so we ask that persons stay inside and try to go into the most secure place of their home."

As Joaquin moves away, conditions will slowly improve across the islands. Greatest damage appears to have come from storm surge of 8 feet (first floor of buildings).  

In terms of the dramatic shift in the National Hurricane Center's (NHC) forecast, from a powerful hurricane hitting the Carolina's to an out to sea forecast, stems from whether forecast models merged Joaquin with an upper-level storm, or not.

Not related to Joaquin, but the area of upper-level low pressure near Jacksonville.
Not related to Joaquin, but the area of upper-level low pressure near Jacksonville.

That upper-level low is about to pound South Carolina with what is expected to be, all-time historic rains.  6-12" with some locations possibly receiving 20" of rain is expected by Tuesday morning.

The American model forecasted a merging of the two systems, the European (EURO) model kicked Joaquin out to sea.

The battle of the global forecast models (American verses European) appears to have been won by the European model.  The EURO, as early as Tuesday, suggested that Joaquin would be kicked out to sea and not impact the United States east coast.

The main difference between the two models appears to have been helped by greatly increased observational data inserted into the American forecast model.  The Global Forecast System (GFS) began predicting a track further out to sea as soon as the high density observation data was incorporated into the model.

Originally, the American forecast model (GFS) had been strongly suggesting Joaquin would become a "Frankenstorm," where Joaquin would merge with an upper-level storm to create a destructive hurricane that would have unleashed extreme winds, rains and coastal flooding.

The European forecast model kept Joaquin and the powerful upper-level systems separate.  

This means the European forecast model is now two for two. Skillfully predicting two totally different outcomes correctly.

For Jacksonville, no significant impact is expected, except along the beaches where dangerous rip currents and high surf (5-7 feet) will be around until Sunday.  A few morning showers are possible today, but the sun returns later today as well.

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