Hurricane Joaquin strengthened to a Category 4 this afternoon on its way through the Bahamas. It’s now a large, powerful storm with sustained winds of 130 to 156 mph. The biggest threat, however, is Joaquin’s storm surge, which is raising sea levels five to ten feet in the Bahamas and could do the same — or worse — when it reaches the U.S. East Coast early next week.

For comparison, back in 2012, Hurricane Sandy brought a 13-foot storm surge to New York City.

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Here’s Joaquin just before it strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.

It’s currently projected to reach the U.S. on Monday and skim the coastal states from North Carolina northward. The area has already endured heavy rains and flooding over the last few days, and Joaquin is expected to worsen the situation for residents.

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We’ve been tracking the storm here along with Gawker’s weather blog, The Vane, and here are some important stories about Joaquin—including one on how to get prepared.

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Image credit: NASA


Contact the author at k.smithstrickland@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter.

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