After a week of hype, Hurricane Joaquin did not actually directly hit the U.S., thus continuing the country’s decade-long period without a major hurricane making landfall.
The U.S. has not seen a major hurricane — Category 3 or higher — make landfall since Hurricane Wilma hit on Oct. 24 2005. The nearly decade-long hurricane drought has come as a big surprise to climate scientists and environmentalists who have argued that global warming will make storms more frequent and intense.
Joaquin, which was initially predicted to make landfall on the U.S. East Coast this past weekend, ended up moving eastward. The hurricane did cause heavy rains and flooding in the South, but most of the eastern U.S. was spared from the worst impacts of the storm.
The Bahamas, however, weren’t so lucky. One journalist reported that smaller islands in the Bahamas were “completely obliterated” under intense rain, high winds and storm surges. In the aftermath of the storm, there were shortages of things like food, bottled water, diapers, toiletries, but U.S. Coast Guard ships were already on their way with relief.
“The south of the island near Clarencetown was just obliterated,” Photojournalist Eddy Rafael told The Weather Channel. “People were running into the streets and making signals to land. You could see people tearing toward the airport … thinking that we were going to head on to the airport. Which was kind of devastating; it really brought tears to your eyes that we couldn’t come.”
On Saturday, Joaquin re-intensified, reaching wind speed levels just short of a Category 5 storm. Colorado State University meteorologist Dr. Phil Klotzbach noted that Joaquin was “the first Category 4 hurricane to track through The Bahamas in October since 1866,” according to The Weather Channel.
After devastating the Bahamas, Joaquin moved northeast towards Bermuda, hitting the small island with wind gusts up to 64 miles per hour. Now the storm is leaving Bermuda and heading towards Europe.
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