The Latest: Joaquin strengthening as it approaches Bahamas

AP News
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Posted: Oct 01, 2015 2:35 AM
The Latest: Joaquin strengthening as it approaches Bahamas

MIAMI (AP) — The latest on Joaquin, which is expected to pass near the Bahamas and head toward the East Coast of the U.S. (all times local):

1:45 a.m.

Hurricane Joaquin is expected to strengthen in the Atlantic as it heads toward the central Bahamas.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Joaquin was centered about 80 miles (125 km) east-southeast of San Salvador just before 2 a.m. Thursday. The Category 3 hurricane's maximum sustained winds had increased to 120 mph (195 kph). It was moving southwest at 6 mph (9 kph) and was expected to continue in that general direction for much of Thursday.

Additional strengthening is expected, with some fluctuations in intensity Thursday night and Friday.

A hurricane warning is in effect for the Central Bahamas, including Cat Island, the Exumas, Long Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador; and the Northwestern Bahamas, including the Abacos, Berry Islands, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island and New Providence.

Forecasters say hurricane conditions are expected to reach portions of the central Bahamas in the next few hours. That area could see total rain accumulations of 10 to 15 inches because of the storm.

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11 p.m.

Joaquin has strengthened into a Category 3 hurricane in the Atlantic, where much of the Bahamas is under hurricane watches or warnings.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Joaquin was centered about 90 miles (145 kms) east of San Salvador and about 170 miles (275 kms) east of the Central Bahamas late Wednesday. The hurricane had maximum sustained winds of 115 mph (185 kph) and was moving southwest at 6 mph (9kph).

A hurricane warning is in effect for the Central Bahamas, including Cat Island, the Exumas, Long Island, Rum Cay, and San Salvador; and the Northwestern Bahamas, including the Abacos, Berry Islands, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island, and New Providence. A Hurricane watch is in effect for Bimini and Andros Island.

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5 p.m.

People on the islands of the eastern Bahamas are getting ready for Hurricane Joaquin, removing stray coconuts and other debris from their yards and putting up storm shutters in blustery winds.

At 5 p.m. Wednesday, Joaquin was about 175 miles (282 kilometers) east of the central Bahamas and has winds of about 85 mph (137 kph).

Chris Gosling runs a volunteer ambulance service on Eleuthera, a narrow strip to the north of Cat Island. He says people aren't panicking too much. Islanders are preparing for heavy rains, strong winds and flooding.

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1:40 p.m.

Hurricane Joaquin has strengthened a little more as it heads toward the central Bahamas, and its maximum sustained winds are now 85 mph (137 kph).

The storm is on a projected track to move near or over parts of the central Bahamas on Wednesday night and Thursday. The islands are bracing for strong winds, heavy rain and coastal flooding.

Joaquin became a hurricane earlier Wednesday. Forecasters say it could become a major hurricane with winds of at least 111 mph (179 kph) over the next couple of days.

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12 p.m.

Hurricane Joaquin has strengthened a little as it heads toward the central Bahamas.

Joaquin's maximum sustained winds are 80 mph (129 kph). The storm is on a projected track to move near or over parts of the central Bahamas on Wednesday night and Thursday. The islands are bracing for tropical-storm-force winds, heavy rain and coastal flooding.

The storm is expected to head toward the East Coast of the U.S. early next week. The Hurricane Center says additional strengthening is expected over the next two days.