This 5.50 megabyte GIF shows a 15-hour infrared satellite loop of Hurricane Joaquin as it slammed the Bahamas between 5:15 AM and 8:15 PM EDT on Thursday. The hurricane is a category four on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale with sustained winds of 130 MPH, and it could strengthen a bit before weakening on Saturday. Joaquin is the strongest hurricane to hit the Bahamas since Floyd in 1999, which raked the island chain with sustained winds of 155 MPH.

The central Bahamas will continue to feel the effects of Hurricane Joaquin until an approaching trough lifts it up and away from the country late Friday and early Saturday. While there’s still some uncertainty in its ultimate track, it looks like Joaquin will head out to sea and away from a U.S. landfall. However, there is still going to be a significant rainfall event in the Carolinas that could drop more than a foot of rain over a huge area this weekend, leading to the potential for devastating flash flooding.

[Image: NASA | Image converted to grayscale by the author to shrink the file size and, quite honestly, because it looks pretty cool like that.]

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