A strengthening Tropical Storm Joaquin was expected to become a hurricane sometime early Wednesday as it slowly moves toward the Central Bahamas before an expected sharp turn to the north away from South Florida.
At 11 p.m., the National Hurricane Center reported that Joaquin’s sustained winds had reached 70 mph and with warm water in its path, the system was expected to get stronger over the next two days. The NHC forecast wind speeds reaching 90 mph in three days, which would make it a strong Category 1 hurricane.
With tropical storm winds extending 90 miles from Joaquin’s center, the Central Bahamas will see winds and seas continue to build.
The government of the Bahamas has issued a hurricane watch for the central Bahamas. A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area, in this case within the next 36 to 48 hours.
On its current path, Joaquin was expected to continue creeping southwest toward the islands over the next few days, steered by a high pressure system. Computer models, forecaster said, agree it will turn sharply north as the strongest core of the storm approaches the out islands of the Bahamas. But from there, the NHC noted, there is “significant divergence” in computer models — with some taking it somewhere toward the Carolinas and other curving it out into the Atlantic Ocean.