Heavy rains, strong winds will continue; hurricane threat lessens

Based on current forecasts, Hurricane Joaquin is predicted to be far off the coast of southern New England by Monday afternoon.

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As of 11 am, Friday, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA)  : October 2, 2015 said a slow-moving cold front will continue to move across the region through Saturday. There are no significant hazards associated with this weather system.

MEMA issued the following reports:

Rainfall today, possibly heavy at times along the south coast of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Through Saturday an additional 0.50 to 1.00 inch of rainfall is likely, less over Northwest MA with possibly up to 1.5 inches over Cape Cod and the Islands before transiting to drizzle later Saturday. Flooding is not expected. Some improvement Sunday is expected with drizzle not as widespread and breaks of sun possible inland.

Minor Coastal Flooding during the afternoon high tide cycle along the eastern Massachusetts coastline from the New Hampshire-Massachusetts boarder southward to Nantucket. Another round of minor coastal flooding is possible during the Saturday afternoon high tide cycle with impacts similar to the Friday afternoon high tide. Seas building to 10 to 15 ft. by tomorrow, with 12 to 18 ft. possible early next week.

Winds: Persistent northeast winds forecast through Saturday. A Wind Advisory is in effect for the entire south coast of Massachusetts and Rhode Island including Cape Cod and the Islands. Expect 20-30 mph winds with gusts to 40 mph over Cape and Islands through Saturday with strongest winds in the afternoon and evening.

Watches and Warnings 

NWS has issued a Wind Advisory from 2:00 p.m. today through 11:00 a.m. Saturday for south Plymouth, southern Bristol, Barnstable, and Dukes counties, and from 4:00 a.m. today through 3:00 p.m. Saturday for Nantucket county

Hurricane Joaquin

Hurricane Joaquin is still located over the Bahamas. As of 2 PM, Joaquin was a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph, and moving north at 5 mph. Joaquin is expected to begin a faster northward motion later today, followed by a turn toward the northeast and an increase in forward speed tonight and Saturday. Joaquin will begin to move away from the Bahamas tonight through Saturday.

There is greater confidence in the forecast models to indicate that Joaquin will continue track offshore of the United States east coast from the Carolinas to the Mid-Atlantic States, and then shift  further east out to sea.  New England is no longer in the cone of error. If Joaquin follows its current track, it will be far off the coast of New England by late Monday afternoon into early Tuesday morning as a Category 1 hurricane. With this track, impacts of Joaquin on Massachusetts would likely be limited to large swells and strong rip currents early next week.

While there may be reason for cautious optimism, the storm is still 4 days away and must be monitored closely; impacts from Joaquin to Massachusetts cannot be ruled out and it may be another 24 to 48 hours before there is high confidence in the track of the hurricane as it approaches New England.  Because this a very powerful and large storm, and may still be at hurricane strength when it gets as far north as New England, neither the public nor public safety planners should let their guard down yet.

Surf
Swells generated by Joaquin have begun to affect portions of the southeastern coast of the United States and will spread northward along the east coast of the United States through the weekend. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions. Regardless of Joaquin’s track, a prolonged period of elevated water levels and large waves will affect the mid-Atlantic region, causing significant beach and dune erosion with moderate coastal flooding likely.