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Hurricane Joaquin strengthens near the Bahamas, may threaten U.S. East Coast

Hurricane Joaquin is continuing to strengthen as it moves towards the central Bahamas, and preliminary forecasts indicate that the storm could possibly pose a threat to the U.S. East Coast, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

Joaquin had maximum sustained winds of 80 miles (130 kilometers) per hour by late Wednesday morning, making it a category one hurricane, but additional strengthening is forecast.

Joaquin is located about 215 miles (345 kilometers) east-northeast of the central Bahamas and is moving towards the southwest. The storm is expected to take a turn towards the northwest when it reaches San Salvador Island, after which it is forecast to move back over the open Atlantic Ocean and strengthen further, possibly becoming a major category three hurricane by Saturday..

Long-term forecasts indicate that Joaquin could make landfall on the U.S. East Coast early next week, but the forecast is preliminary and is likely to change after the storm leaves the Caribbean.

A hurricane warning is in effect for the Central Bahamas including Cat Island, the Exumas, Long Island, Rum Cay, and San Salvador. A hurricane watch is in effect for the northwestern Bahamas, including the Abacos, Berry Islands, Bimini, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island, and New Providence.

“Winds are expected to first reach tropical storm strength in the warning area tonight,” the NHC said in its 11 a.m. advisory. “Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.”

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