Hurricane Joaquin strengthens to Category 3, could hit the East Coast

(WPRI) — As forecast by the Pinpoint Weather Team, heavy rain caused a slow and soggy commute Wednesday morning. And, although we experienced a lull Wednesday night, officials are urging residents not to let their guard down, as another threat for severe weather looms with the approach of Hurricane Joaquin.

Joaquin has strengthened to a Category 3 storm, and is threatening the Bahamas Wednesday night.

Round One

Round one began moving through our area during the overnight hours and throughout the morning commute.

Oaklawn Avenue, which is known for flooding, was under water late Wednesday morning. Crews shut down the street that runs under the bridge for about a half hour, until the water drained.

In addition to flooding potential, there is a high rip current risk along the southern coast.

Round Two

Wednesday’s storm was round one.

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Eyewitness News Meteorologist Pete Mangione said another round of rainy, windy weather – much like we saw Wednesday morning – is expected to move through Thursday night into Friday.

While this storm is not related to Hurricane Joaquin, it could feed off of some of the hurricane’s moisture.

Emergency officials are urging people to use the lull between storms to prepare, by taking in lawn furniture or holiday decorations, as well as removing hanging tree limbs.

“We recommend removing as much as you can because if we do get some heave winds, those could become projectiles. They could fall and damage your home or your property,” said RIEMA’s Alex Ambrosius.

Tracking Joaquin

Emergency officials said they’re also keeping an eye on Hurricane Joaquin which, depending on its track, could bring heavy wind and rain over the weekend.

The storm was elevated to a Category One storm Wednesday morning.

“We are very well in the midst of the Atlantic Hurricane Season,” said RIEMA Director Peter Gaynor. “In Southern New England, we are prone to experiencing tropical storms and hurricanes around this time of year and therefore, we are prepared to deal with such weather. However, it’s imperative that Rhode Islanders are also prepared so that they are ready for both the upcoming severe weather, as well as Tropical Storm Joaquin.

“Now is the time to double check your disaster-supply kit and gather any additional items that you may need. We also encourage individuals, families, and businesses to take a look around their property and check for dangling or damaged tree limbs and safely remove them in order to avoid debris that could potentially damage your home or property.”

A look at the morning commute on I-95 North on Wednesday, September 30, 2015. (Photo: Nancy Krause/WPRI)
A look at the morning commute on I-95 North on Wednesday, September 30, 2015. (Photo: Nancy Krause/WPRI)

Below are additional tips on how individuals, families, and businesses can be prepared for severe weather:

  • Gather a disaster-supply kit that includes water, food, flashlight, extra batteries, NOAA Weather Radio, first aid kit, and any necessary medicines and prescriptions.
  • Develop a family communications plan in case you are separated during an emergency.
  • Make sure all family members have an emergency contact list.
  • Know your local emergency evacuation routes.
  • Take down any outdoor decorations and bring in lawn furniture.
  • Properly secure or bring in your boat.
  • Clear leaves, sticks, and other debris from nearby storm drains in order to avoid clogging that could lead to street flooding.
  • Visit www.riema.ri.gov to Register with CodeRed and receive free emergency notifications from local and state officials.

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