Hurricane Joaquin Strengthens as It Approaches Bahamas, US East Coast

The storm is now a Category 3 hurricane.

— -- Hurricane Joaquin is strengthening as it approaches the Bahamas, with an eye on the U.S. East Coast.

At 5 a.m. the storm was located about 65 miles southeast of San Salvador, Bahamas, and is moving southwest at 6 mph.

Hurricane warnings have been posted for the central and northwestern Bahamas, and a hurricane watch is issued for Bimini and Andros Island.

Conditions in central and southeastern Bahamas are expected to worsen in the coming hours, with a storm surge raising water levels by as much as 5 to 8 feet above normal tide levels, according to the National Weather Service.

Some areas could receive up to 20 inches of rain from Joaquin.

It is still too early to determine the exact impact that Joaquin may or may not have on the United States, but regardless of the final track that Joaquin takes – a surge of tropical moisture is expected to drench the East Coast, bringing several more inches of rain to an already soaked region.