Much of the Bahamas has been placed on hurricane alert as Hurricane Joaquin strengthened into a category 3 storm.
The eye of the hurricane is expected to pass over the eastern islands of the Bahamas overnight, bringing winds of up to 120mph.
The US National Hurricane Center warned that Joaquin could affect the US east coast by Sunday, and that Joaquin “could become a major hurricane” by Friday.
Joaquin picked up strength on Wednesday, after being upgraded from a storm to a category 3 hurricane, on a scale of five, in only a few hours, the BBC reported.
Geoffrey Greene, a senior forecaster with the Bahamas Meteorology Department, said he was “very concerned” about some of the smaller islands in Joaquin’s path, such as San Salvador, Rum Cay and Cat Island, which all have small populations.
Officials in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, states badly affected by Superstorm Sandy in 2012, warned residents should begin making preparations.
The US National Weather Service said: “Joaquin has strengthened into a hurricane and while there is still much uncertainty in its path, people along the US east coast should monitor the National Hurricane Center and local forecast offices, as well as local media, for the latest updates and be sure to have a plan in place should Joaquin threaten their area.”
The governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, declared a state or emergency in response to heavy flooding earlier in the week, and because of what he called “a serious threat to life and property” from Joaquin.
“The forecast of up to 10 inches of rain in areas across Virginia could result in floods, power outages and a serious threat to life and property,” he warned.
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