Hurricane Joaquin, the third Atlantic hurricane of the season, is predicted to make its way up the East Coast over the next few days, eventually heading toward New York.
As of Thursday, Joaquin has been pummeling the Bahamas with 125 mph winds and heavy rain.
But until the storm gets farther along, it’s hard to tell exactly how it’ll all go down. In the meantime, we have maps like this one, called a “spaghetti plot,” below. These type of plots are designed to account for different assumptions and weather patterns, so there can be a wide range of possible storm directions:
That’s a lot of options.
From the looks of the spaghetti plot, the hurricane could go anywhere from straight out into the Atlantic to directly toward South Carolina. Which is why this isn’t necessarily the kind of forecasting method many meteorologists prefer. Marshall Shepherd, the director of the atmospheric sciences program at the University of Georgia, told Business Insider that this kind of forecasting is “not that good.”
Instead, Shepherd what meterologists call a “cone of certainty.” Instead of a single line or groups of lines, the cone of certainty looks like this (based on the Thursday 11 a.m. update on Joaquin):
Thankfully, in terms of predicting a hurricane’s potential path, the science has gotten much better over the past few years, said Shepherd. What’s still difficult to predict is the intensity of the storm – and the potential havoc they could wreak.
Here’s what we do know: Get ready for rain.
Even before Joaquin was classified as a hurricane, the East Coast was slated for rain. Regardless of whether Joaquin makes landfall, it will bring rain. The mid-Atlantic region was already forecast to receive between six-to-12 inches – before Joaquin got its “major hurricane” status.
Guess it’s time to get the rain boots out.