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Hurricane Joaquin and Rex Block to Bring Life-Threatening Floods

As Hurricane Joaquin battered the Bahamas early Friday, the East Coast was bracing for a potential double-whammy linked to a separate storm that could bring life-threatening floods.

The National Weather Service said the "extremely dangerous" Category 4 Hurricane Joaquin was "pounding" the central Bahamas overnight, with maximum sustained winds of around 140 miles per hour. Storm-surge floods and torrential rain also were hitting the islands.

Forecasters said the hurricane could intensify further as it drifts west and is expected to turn north at some point later on Friday.

Category 4 Hurricane Joaquin is seen over the Bahamas in the Atlantic Ocean in this NOAA GOES East satellite image taken at 08:45 ET.
NOAA | Reuters
Category 4 Hurricane Joaquin is seen over the Bahamas in the Atlantic Ocean in this NOAA GOES East satellite image taken at 08:45 ET.

While the odds of Joaquin making landfall on the U.S. mainland are "dwindling,"according to The Weather Channel, that doesn't mean the East Coast won't feel some of the storm's wrath. Dangerous coastal and inland flooding could still hit several states, forecasters warned.

Regardless of how Joaquin advances, several East Coast states will face "potentially unprecedented rainfall and life-threatening flooding," according to The Weather Channel.

The historic floods would be thanks to a weather pattern known as a "Rex Block," where a high-pressure front is above a low-pressure front, that will bring downpours for days.

A swath of the Eastern Seaboard — from Washington, D.C., to Charleston, South Carolina — will be deluged, and the area's already-saturated grounds raise the risk of floods through the weekend. Charleston could get more than 10 inches of rain by Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.

The heaviest downpours are expected to hit the Carolinas — with some areas forecast to get between 1 and 2 feet of rain, according to The Weather Channel.

Flash flood watches have been issued by the National Weather Service from Maryland southward into most of Virginia, the Carolinas, northeastern Georgia and eastern Tennessee.

The governors of Virginia and North Carolina have declared states of emergency.