An "extremely dangerous" Joaquin grew into a Category 4 hurricane on Thursday as the powerful system moved through the Bahamas.
Maximum sustained winds were 130 miles per hour and further strengthening is anticipated during the next 24 hours.
At 5 p.m., the center of Hurricane Joaquin was located about 70 miles south of San Salvador.
Joaquin is moving generally southwestward at about 6 mph, and a southwestward or westward motion is expected to continue through tonight. A turn toward the northwest and north is expected on Friday, and a faster motion toward the north is expected Friday night and Saturday.
Rainfall amounts of 10 - 15 inches are expected in the affected areas of the Bahamas with 20 inches possible in some isolated areas.
On the forecast track, the center of Joaquin will move near or over portions of the central Bahamas today and tonight and pass near or over portions of the northwestern Bahamas on Friday.
Current computer models show Joaquin off the northeastern US coast on Tuesday as a tropical storm.
Ocean swells generated by Joaquin will begin to affect portions of the southeast coast of the U.S. later today. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.
Coastal flooding and beach erosion are also likely as the storm travels offshore near the mid-Atlantic states in the next few days.