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Hurricane Joaquin Barrels Down on Bermuda

By By Kristina Pydynowski, senior meteorologist
October 05, 2015, 9:28:32 PM EDT

Hurricane Joaquin barrelled down on Bermuda as the weekend came to an end, posing hazards to residents and vacationers.

Despite undergoing some weakening and no longer near Category 5 hurricane status, Joaquin is a Category 1 hurricane as it tracks northeastward through the western Atlantic Ocean.

Such a track will spare the United States of a direct hit, though historic flooding has still unfolded in South Carolina. Joaquin, on the other hand, will come within 120 km (75 miles) of Bermuda Sunday evening.


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Rain and wind will pound the island nation into Sunday night with the heaviest rain and strongest winds expected through the first part of the night. Rain totals will average 50 to 100 mm (2 to 4 inches), which may lead to some flash flooding.

“Wind gusts of 95 to 130 kph (60 to 80 mph) may cause sporadic power outages on the island,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Edward Vallee said.

Minor damage to structures may also ensue. Additional damage or bodily harm can result from any trees or limbs that get knocked down by the winds.

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“In addition, a storm surge of 30 to 90 cm (1 to 3 feet) to locally as much as 2 meters (6 feet) may cause some flooding issues in coastal sections of the island,” added Vallee. That is especially true on the eastern coast.

The weather will improve across Bermuda on Monday as Joaquin departs away to the northeast, heading into the open waters of the northern Atlantic and posing hazards to only shipping interests.

Joaquin will transition to a non-tropical system by midweek and will be monitored by AccuWeather meteorologists for any potential impacts on the British Isles late in the week.

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With Joaquin well to the north, cleanup operations have begun in the areas of the Bahamas hardest hit by the powerful hurricane.

The islands from Eleuthera to Long Island and Crooked Island endured the worst and an extended period of Joaquin’s fury late last week as the once-major hurricane slowly tracked through the region.

The U.S. Coast Guard is currently performing a search and rescue mission for a missing container ship with 33 crewmembers that was reported to be caught in Joaquin near Crooked Island. The El Faro, a 735-foot ro-ro cargo ship, was en route to San Juan, Puerto Rico, after departing Jacksonville, Florida, the Coast Guard said.

The Coast Guard was first notified that the ship was impacted by Joaquin when it received an Inmarsat satellite notification at approximately 7:30 a.m. on Thursday. Two Air Force C-130 Hurricane Hunter aircrews attempted to locate and reestablish communications with the ship but were unsuccessful on Thursday and Friday.

The crew consists of 28 U.S. citizens and five Polish nationals, the Coast Guard said.

A life ring from the cargo ship was located on Saturday, but no members of the crew had been found, the Coast Guard said. On Sunday, the Associated Press reported that rescuers from the U.S. Coast Guard spotted "life jackets, life rings, containers and an oil sheen" in the search area. It has yet to be confirmed if the debris and oil is from the ship.

The Coast Guard reported that a 225 square mile debris field consisting of styrofoam, wood, cargo and other items was spotted on Sunday afternoon.

Seas and winds will not be as high as recent days for search crews early this week, but a shower will occasionally be around to reduce visibility. A thunderstorm could also delay crews by producing a lightning threat and briefly kicking up seas and winds.

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