RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – As Hurricane Joaquin shifted east again Friday morning, the storm remains a Category 4 storm with sustained winds around 130 miles per hour.
As of Thursday evening, Joaquin is located about 75 miles south-southwest of San Salvador in the Bahamas. It still moving southwest around six miles per hour. A westward or southwestward motion is expected through tonight. A turn toward the north is expected on Friday, and a faster motion toward the north is expected Friday night and Saturday. On the forecast track, the center of Joaquin will move near or over portions of the central Bahamas tonight and pass near or over portions of the northwestern Bahamas on Friday.
The official track from the National Hurricane Center has continued to shift to the east and the center of Joaquin is expected to stay well east of the North Carolina Outer Banks as it passes by Sunday.
The path of Joaquin is very dependent on the upper level winds, therefore there is still a chance Joaquin could come ashore anywhere along the Outer Banks north to New England. That now, however, is the extreme western extent of the forecast cone. So the chances are increasing that the storm will never approach the North Carolina coast. There are currently no watches in effect for the United States.
However, the government of the Bahamas has continued with Hurricane Warnings for the Central and Northwestern Bahamas including the Abacos, Berry Islands, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island, and New Providence.
If the forecast path for Joaquin holds, the effects for central North Carolina from Joaquin would be minimal. Along the coast with a the storm passing to the east, the Outer Banks could still see heavy rain, high surf, and strong winds as the storm moves by on Sunday.
Duke Energy says it’s preparing for potentially downed trees and power lines from Joaquin. A spokesperson said they are on a “heightened alert,” which means crews are checking equipment to make sure they are ready to respond to emergencies.
Duke managers will make a decision about increasing staffing over the weekend as the storm get’s closer.
“When there are outages, first we target emergency response; any police stations, fire departments. We want to get them up and back online first, but we work to get all of our customers restored,” said Meredith Archie, Duke Energy.