We don’t yet know whether Hurricane Joaquin will make a beeline for Long Island or veer westward toward the Carolinas or out to sea.
But what we do know is that we’re in for a patch of severe weather for the next several days before Joaquin even considers brushing our shores. As of Wednesday afternoon, we’re looking at a possibility we will face Joaquin’s winds overnight Sunday into Monday morning.
Flooding in Store
With at least two solid days of rain and a longer spate of high winds ahead of us, Wednesday afternoon the National Weather Service issued a coastal flood advisory through 6 a.m. Friday and a coastal flood watch from 6 a.m. Friday through Friday afternoon.
Today’s lackluster drizzle and south winds belied the truth that we’re in for a wallop of a nor’easter over the next several days. As of 5 p.m., the wind had already shifted to the north, and is expected to intensify and edge over to the northeast over the next three days, increasing to around 30 miles per hour by Saturday morning. We’re also expecting temperatures to plummet to a low point Friday, when the mercury will hold steady at about 52 degrees all day.
Overnight tonight, we’re expecting high tides to be one to one-and-a-half feet above normal. High tide tonight will be 12:34 a.m. in Orient, 12:57 a.m. in Sag Harbor and 2:31 a.m. in South Jamesport.
Friday’s tides are expected to be higher than Thursdays, with high tide Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. in Orient, 2:23 p.m. in Sag Harbor and 3:57 p.m. in South Jamesport.
Saltwatertides.com has great accurate local tide information that can help coastal property owners monitor the situation over the next few days.
Non-tidal flooding is also expected in low-lying areas, as it continues to rain over the next several days. While we are expecting up to an inch of rain between now and Thursday night, we’re expecting one to two inches of rain on Friday and more potential precipitation throughout the weekend.
The National Weather Service is cautioning that more alerts may be issued as the nasty weather continues.
The 22nd Annual Whitebread Race around Shelter Island, organized by the Peconic Bay Sailing Association, is scheduled for this Saturday, when we’re currently expecting rain and winds around 30 miles per hour.
PBSA announced on their website Wednesday afternoon that “The Whitebread Committee is closely monitoring the weather situation as it affects Saturday’s regatta. The safety of the Fleet is the Race Committee’s most important concern.”
They’re asking sailors to check back here for ongoing updates.
Hurricane Center Update
The National Hurricane Center’s latest alert at 5 p.m. Sept. 30 said Joaquin currently has maximum sustained winds of 85 miles per hour, with stronger gusts, and is moving southwest at 8 miles per hour toward the central Bahamas.
The storm is currently expected to turn toward the northwest tomorrow and then further northward on Friday, and is expected to strengthen throughout that time. If it crosses the threshold of 96 miles per hour, it will become a Category 2 hurricane.
According to the National Hurricane Center, “Joaquin could become a major hurricane by Friday.” As of now, the only areas under hurricane advisories or watches are in the Bahamas.
The National Hurricane Center’s next complete advisory will be online here at 11 p.m. tonight.
Editor’s Note: As of 2 a.m. Thursday, Joaquin was a Category 3 hurricane with wind speeds of 120 miles per hour and was heading southwest toward the central Bahamas. It is expected to intensify today as well.The storm is still expected to turn toward the northwest or north over the course of today and Friday, with landfall projections for the East Coast still possible Sunday into Monday. The storm is expected to bring 10-15 inches of rain to the Bahamas, along with a storm surge of two to four feet.
According to the National Weather Service’s 11 p.m. Wednesday report, “confidence in the details of the forecast after 72 hours remains low, since we have one normally excellent model that keeps Joaquin far away from the United States east coast. The range of possible outcomes is still large, and includes the possibility of a major hurricane landfall in the Carolinas. Because landfall, if it occurs, is still more than three days away, it’s too early to talk about specific wind, rain, or surge impacts from Joaquin in the United States. Regardless of Joaquin’s track, strong onshore winds will create minor to moderate coastal flooding along the coasts of the mid-Atlantic and northeastern states through the weekend. A hurricane watch for a portion of the U.S. coast could be required as early as Thursday evening.
Bellone Opens Emergency Operations Center
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone issued a statement just after noon Wednesday urging residents to monitor the weather carefully.
“While there is still much uncertainty in the current forecast models of Hurricane Joaquin, it is possible Suffolk County will see some of its effects,” he said. “It is still unclear what type of impact this storm will have on our region, however, at this point it appears heavy rain and some winds throughout the next five days are likely.”
Mr. Bellone said he has directed the Suffolk County Fire Rescue and Emergency Services to open the county’s Emergency Operations Center, with personnel tasked to monitor the hurricane and coordinate their preparedness efforts with local fire departments and emergency service providers.
He’s urging the public to sign up to receive Suffolk County CodeRED Emergency Notifications and find more information on hurricane preparedness through the Suffolk County Office of Emergency Management.
He’s also asking members of the public to create a Smart911 safety profile on www.Smart911.com to give 9-1-1 operators valuable information about themselves, family members, homes, pets and even vehicles that will automatically display on the 9-1-1 dispatcher’s screen when you make an emergency call. This information can save valuable seconds, or even minutes, during an emergency.
The county is also asking families to put together hurricane plans for throughout hurricane season by doing the following:
• Build an emergency kit with one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, non-perishable food, medications, a first aid kit, a flashlight and extra batteries.
• Make a family communication plan. Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to be the “family contact” in case your family is separated during a flood. Make sure everyone in your family knows the name, address, and phone number of this contact person.
• Determine where you would go and how you would get there if you needed to evacuate.
• Learn the elevation level of your property and whether the land is flood-prone. Visit http://gis2.suffolkcountyny.gov/suffolk-shelters/ to find out if your home is in a storm surge zone.
• Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well-trimmed so they are more wind resistant.
• Plan to bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.
Twitter for Storms
The Beacon will provide continuing weather updates over the next several days. Please tweet us at @eastendbeacon if you’d like to share any information with us.
Suffolk County’s Department of Fire Rescue and Emergency Services is constantly tweeting the details of emergency situations throughout Long Island at @SuffolkCoFRES. Their tweets have proven very valuable in past storms for smartphone users when the power is out.