Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Hurricane and Rainstorm Are Locked in a Dangerous Dance ; Meteorologists Not Sure Which Path Storm Will Take, May Drench East Coast

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Hurricane and Rainstorm Are Locked in a Dangerous Dance ; Meteorologists Not Sure Which Path Storm Will Take, May Drench East Coast

Article excerpt

Meteorologists not sure which path storm will take, may drench East Coast

WASHINGTON - Hurricane Joaquin is locked in a dance with an extraordinarily heavy rainstorm that is already drenching the Carolinas. As the two draw closer together over the next few days, the effects could be disastrous for the East Coast. The rainstorm is the dance partner that is leading this tango, and what it does will determine where Joaquin goes and how much of the East Coast floods. Storm No. 1 could push Joaquin out to sea or pull it into the heavily crowded Northeast.

At the same time, Joaquin is feeding the storm with moisture, contributing to its heavy rainfall.

Meteorologists are deeply uncertain about where Joaquin will go. But they warn that the record-breaking rain from storm No. 1 is a sure and scary thing, at least for an area for South Carolina to Washington, D.C.

Joaquin strengthened over the Bahamas into a powerful Category 4 storm with 130 mph winds Thursday, and computer models over the past two days have switched back and forth, sometimes showing it blowing ashore along the East Coast, sometimes showing it peeling out to sea.

The latest National Hurricane Center forecast on Thursday showed Joaquin veering a bit away from the Southeast coast and heading toward Long Island, New York. However, meteorologists were starting to look more favorably on an out-to-sea scenario.

It's a messy picture, no matter what happens.

"The worst-case scenarios are very worrisome, and the best-case scenario is pretty bad even without a landfall because of the rain threat, said Marshall Shepherd, a University of Georgia meteorology professor and host of the TV show "Weather Geeks.

As a result, meteorologists are emphasizing that people shouldn't focus solely on the hurricane. Streets and homes can still get walloped with rain and flooding associated with the hurricane even if it is 1,000 miles away. And because Joaquin is funneling tropical moisture into storm No. 1 - and can keep doing so from afar - even an out-to-sea Joaquin can worsen flooding.

"I know we like to focus on the hurricane, said David Novack, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland. …

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