Joaquin developed on September 27 in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm rapidly intensified as it moved toward the Bahamas.
Hurricane Joaquin strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane and remained at that intensity for several days as it lashed the Bahamas.
Eventually the storm curled back to the northeast and accelerated, passing by Bermuda just to the west. Joaquin remained a hurricane for a few days beyond that, before dissipating on October 7.
Almost a Category 5
Utilizing an instrument for estimating surface winds, the stepped frequency microwave radiometer (SFMR), a Hurricane Hunter reconnaissance mission estimated surface winds of around 135 knots, or 155 mph just before noon on October 3.
This was just 2 mph shy of becoming a Category 5 hurricane.
Joaquin's Hits the Central Bahamas Hard
Flooding from storm surge and torrential rainfall has been documented on Long Island and Acklins, among other central Bahamas locations. A Weather Underground personal weather station at Pitts Town, Crooked Island, reported winds up to 84 mph before it stopped reporting.
A total blackout was reported on the three hardest-hit islands of the central Bahamas. About 85 percent of the homes in one settlement on Crooked Island were reportedly destroyed.
(MORE: Bahamas Impacts)
Colorado State University tropical meteorologist Dr. Phil Klotzbach said Joaquin was the first Category 4 hurricane to track through The Bahamas in October since 1866. Joaquin's minimum central pressure of 931 millibars was also the lowest observed in an Atlantic Basin hurricane since September 2010, when Hurricane Igor bottomed out at 924 millibars.
Klotzbach also said Joaquin was only the 20th Category 4 or 5 hurricane to impact The Bahamas in historical records dating to 1851, and the second latest in the season to do so. Only a Nov. 10, 1932 Category 4 hurricane occurred later, Klotzbach says.
Hurricane Joaquin rapidly intensified as wind shear – harmful to the intensification of tropical cyclones – diminished, allowing Joaquin's core convection to feed off the warm water near the central Bahamas.
A Bermuda Brush
Winds gusted frequently over 50 mph in Bermuda, with the strongest official wind gust reaching 64 mph at the Bermuda International Airport shortly before 9 p.m. Gusts over 50 mph continued in Bermuda for nearly 24 hours.