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The Remains of Hurricane Joaquin May Hit the Wall in Europe

  • Joaquin's winds and rain could last well into next week
  • Impact won't equal that of last year's Hurricane Gonzalo

Hurricane Joaquin should finally meet its match over Europe.

A larger weather system will probably sap the storm, which sank the El Faro with 33 aboard and raked the Bahamas and Bermuda, before it reaches land, said Kristina Pydynowski, a meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.

“There is an area of high pressure over Europe and it is going to run into that wall,”’ Pydynowski said.

A year ago, the U.K. took a hit from Hurricane Gonzalo, which killed three people in a wide sweep across the western Atlantic before turning toward Europe. Hurricane-force wind gusts were recorded in the U.K., flights were grounded, ferry service was stopped and ground transportation was difficult, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Joaquin “will still get to Europe, but it will not be a repeat of Gonzalo,” Pydynowski said.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be heavy rain and strong winds when it arrives this weekend, said Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He said top winds could reach 50 miles (80 kilometers) per hour.

Destination Uncertain

“The models are split on where ex-Joaquin might go, with Ireland and Portugal both potentially in play,” Masters said.

Joaquin peaked as a Category 4 hurricane with top winds of 155 mph on Saturday while it was between the Bahamas and Bermuda. Since then, the storm has been drifting to the north and east, weakening as it goes, and will probably transition into a post-tropical storm by Wednesday, the hurricane center said.

What this means is that its structure will change. A hurricane or tropical storm gets its energy from warm ocean water and has its strongest winds at its core. A more typical storm, which Joaquin will become, can have its strongest winds far from its core and gets its strength from differences in temperature.

While the high pressure will keep it from slamming into the coast of Europe, Joaquin’s presence may linger across the continent into next week, Pydynowski said. There is a chance “it might not just fizzle,” she said.

The storm could pick up energy from the jet stream and drop heavy rain across central Europe and the Mediterranean.

If that happens, it will be following in the footsteps of another storm brewing in the Mediterranean that is bound to threaten downpours across Italy and the Balkans this weekend, Pydnynowski said.

The areas soaked by those heavy rains may get another drenching from what is left of Joaquin.

More than two weeks after it emerged as a tropical depression in the Atlantic, the rains of Joaquin could still be falling.

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