Hurricane Joaquin is proving to be a force to be reckoned with. After starting out as only a tropical storm a mere few days ago, it transformed overnight into a powerful Category 3 with 100 mph winds. However, today it battered down on the Bahamas as a Category 4 with forecasters believing it could hit the East coast as a mammoth Category 5. The last storm of this magnitude was Hurricane Sandy which devastated the eastern seaboard in 2012.
The storm has been hard on the Bahamas over the last 24 hours with the prime minister calling for new laws to facilitate mandatory evacuations as well as better warning systems so citizens can be properly prepared. As of now there have been no reported casualties, but flooding has been occurring in coastal regions.
Joaquin had maximum winds of 130 mph (210 kph) and hurricane strength winds extending 45 miles (75 kilometers) from the eye, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami stated earlier today. As of 5 p.m. EDT, the storm was located about 15 miles northwest of Crooked Island after passing over Samana Cays, Bahamas. It was moving southwest at 6 mph.
Currently, a firm trajectory is unknown as the storm continues to shift course. While it was thought to turn to the north/northwest, now forecasters believe it could make landfall in the U.S. near the Carolinas and are asking residents to prepare themselves.