North Carolina under state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Joaquin

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Governor Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency for all 100 counties ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Joaquin -- a category 4 storm.

“We’re hoping for the best, but hope is not preparation nor is it a plan,” Governor McCrory said. “I’ve ordered all state agencies to begin preparation for the severe weather, particularly flooding, that is going hit just about every corner of the state during the next few days."

McCrory asked that everyone stay away from flooded areas because most storm-related deaths are due to drowning.

“Regardless of the impacts of Hurricane Joaquin, North Carolina has the potential for life-threatening flooding,” cautioned Franklin Perry, the public safety secretary. “We want everyone to remember to ‘Turn around, don’t drown.'”

The governor also noted that fallen trees could be a particular danger given much of ground in the state is saturated after rains that have fallen throughout the state during the past week. The governor said the state is contacting federal emergency partners and will activate Emergency Operations Center Friday morning.

During the press conference, McCrory said Hurricane Joaquin could be reminiscent of Hurricane Floyd.

McCrory asked citizens to update and replenish emergency kits with bottled water, non-perishable food, a weather radio, copies of important documents, flashlights, batteries, and any supplies and medications for pets.

For the latest information on the oncoming weather, the governor advised citizens to stay tuned to local media and listen for updates from the National Weather Service.

Information is also available at www.ReadyNC.org and at the ReadyNC mobile app which can be downloaded for free.

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The Piedmont is in for more rainfall -- ahead of Hurricane Joaquin.

There are still two different areas of concern and one is looking just as bad as before. The other is looking better.

The first is the coastal low and front near the coast. This combined with the upper low over the southeastern US will help produce flooding rainfall across NC.

The rain will pick up tonight and fall heavily at times Friday into Saturday. Areas to the north and east may see a break in the rain on Saturday while the focus shifts more to the south and east. Rainfall of 4 to 6 inches is expected from this part of the storm. Temperatures will remain cool with highs only in the 50s on Friday and 60s on Saturday. Lows only a few degrees lower than the highs with little change from day to night.

The second concern is Hurricane Joaquin. The latest tracks take this farther east and that is good for us. Little if any rain from that system. This track also helps our coast. Still the upper low will linger over the area and showers will continue into Monday. Some of these could still produce locally heavy rainfall. Best chances for heavy rain from Saturday night into Sunday and even early Monday will be to our south.

Click here for the today's forecast.

Click here for the FOX8 interactive radar.

Joaquin hitting the Bahamas

Joaquin on Thursday morning was whipping parts of the Bahamas, an archipelago nation with more than 350,000 people, and the slow-moving storm is expected to continue pounding the islands through Friday.

Around 11 a.m. ET, the storm’s eye was passing over the country’s uninhabited Samana Cays with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph. Forecasters say the storm will be near the northwestern Bahamas, including the country’s most populous city, Nassau, by Friday.

By that time, Joaquin could have 140 mph winds capable of causing catastrophic damage, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Ten to 20 inches of rain could fall over much of the central Bahamas through Friday, according to the hurricane center.

Rain isn’t the only concern: Dangerous storm surges — with water levels as high as 5 to 8 feet above normal tides — are possible on the central Bahamian coasts.

Swells from Joaquin also will affect the southeastern U.S. coast by Thursday, potentially creating life-threatening rip currents, the hurricane center said.

Outer rain bands could hit parts of Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic through Friday, forecasters said.

Where it might make landfall in U.S.

Joaquin’s forecast track shows it could be near North Carolina by Monday and possibly New Jersey a day later, hauntingly close to where Superstorm Sandy made landfall in 2012.

It was just three years ago this month that Sandy slammed the northeastern United States, devastating parts of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

But the projected path of the current storm system already has changed multiple times and could change again.

And should Joaquin make it back to the areas Sandy devastated before, it’s not expected to pack the same punch.

How bad it’s likely to be

When Sandy made landfall on October 29, 2012, it had hurricane-force winds. Joaquin is projected to be a tropical storm once it gets that far north.

The rain? Now that’s a different story.

No matter where Joaquin goes, the storm is expected to bring significant rainfall to the East Coast, where some states already were dealing with flooding from separate systems this week.

“One way or the other, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and on up will get between 5 and 10 inches of rain — even without a direct landfall,” CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said. “If we get a landfall, we get 15 inches of rain and winds of 80 mph.

“But without even a direct landfall, there will be significant flooding through the Carolinas, through Virginia, and all the way up the East Coast.”

Parts of the eastern U.S. from Florida to New Jersey were under flood watches and warnings Thursday morning, with more than 10 inches of rain already having fallen in some areas this week.

Flooding made some streets impassable in Portland, Maine, on Wednesday. Several cars were stalled on one street there after their drivers tried to make it through standing water, WMTW reported.

Floodwater rose to the top of vehicles’ tires at a Whole Foods store in Portland, stranding drivers, WMTW reported.

How communities are getting ready

Coastal communities prepared for Joaquin’s expected weekend visit.

“The ground gets saturated, trees come down, there can be a lot of different issues,” Paula Miller with the Virginia Department of Transportation told WAVY. “If the ground is so saturated that trees start coming down in the roadways, obviously that’s going to be one of the things that we’re going to be prepared to respond to.”

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie declared states of emergencies.

On Wednesday morning, winds topped 20 mph along the Virginia Beach coast, with intermittent rain.

Along Virginia Beach’s Atlantic Avenue, a main thoroughfare about two blocks from the ocean, business owners appeared to be taking a wait-and-see approach. There were no boarded-up windows. Stores remained open, but there were only a few customers. It wasn’t clear if that was because of the weather or because it’s October in a beach town.

Asked what she was doing to prepare for Joaquin, Sharlotte Castillo of the beach shop Sunsations, about a block from the water, said, “Pray, but we always pray, so nothing new. … We’re usually fine here — maybe a little rain, but we’re staying open.”

In eastern Pennsylvania, folks were taking the threat just as seriously. The Poconos took a beating during Sandy.

“What we’re expecting here is to be on alert for flash floods as well as power outages, and so we’re trying to get the word out to the community to think ahead, to have a plan,” Michele Baehr with the Red Cross told WNEP.

Dwyane Francis of Bushkill stocked up on canned goods.

“Preparation is the key. You have to be prepared for everything,” he said.

Yet, some found humor in the hurricane called Joaquin.

Doug Mataconis tweeted a tracking map featuring the head of actor Joaquin Phoenix during different phases of his career.

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