NWS meteorologist: D.C. area in ‘threat zone’ of Joaquin

WASHINGTON — How close is Joaquin coming to the D.C. area? It’s too early to tell for sure, but a National Weather Service meteorologist says the D.C. area is in the threat zone.

Chris Strong tells WTOP that it’s not clear yet how close Hurricane Joaquin will come, but the weather service should know a lot more before Thursday is over.

“It’s too early to draw the track line and say it’s going to pass over eastern Annapolis and not western Annapolis,” Strong said at 7:40 a.m. Thursday.

“We’ve been in that threat zone for the past couple of days … I wouldn’t follow the exact track so much as where the threat zone is, and we’re still in it.”

Speaking at 11 a.m., Strong said that the hurricane, currently hitting the Bahamas, was still drifting toward the southwest, but would turn north early Friday, at which point “we’ll have a little more confidence in what the end result, impact-wise … will be for the D.C. metro area.”

It’s been said that Joaquin, currently a Category 3 storm with 125 mph winds, could strengthen to Category 4, but Strong says the track is the most important factor: “If that track goes more toward the left side of the range of possibilities the Hurricane Center has, that pretty much takes it right through us.”

If the storm sticks to the easternmost range of possibilities, Strong says, the effects will be “pretty minimal” — although, combined with the two to four inches of rain that are expected to fall on the area between Friday evening and Saturday, that could still cause problems.

Winds could reach 25 to 30 mph by Friday night, “and with heavy rain on top of that, we could see some isolated trees start to get pushed over in the soggy soil, and some scattered power outages.”

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