(Accuweather.com)

(Accuweather.com)

The latest tracking of Hurricane Joaquin by the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration estimates the storm will stay at sea and not directly strike the Northeastern U.S. as feared, but forecasters warn it will indirectly produce dangerous flooding and high winds.

“People should not let their guard down due to a shifting track of the hurricane as the risk to lives and property in this complex situation remains high,” Accuweather.com’s senior meteorologist, Alex Sosnowski, reported Friday evening.

The storm already is being blamed for a lost cargo ship near the Bahamas with 33 people aboard, including 31 Americans. The 735-foot ship El Faro was en route to San Juan, Puerto Rico, from Jacksonville, Florida, Fox News reported.

The U.S. Coast Guard, which is searching for the vessel, said it received notification that the ship had lost power around 7 a.m. Eastern Time Thursday near Crooked Island in the eastern Bahamas. The crew reported it was taking on water but eventually contained the flooding. The Coast Guard has been unable to reestablish communications with the ship.

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The ship was carrying 294 trailers and automobiles in its hold and 391 shipping containers on-deck.

Major disruptions

Accuweather says moisture from Joaquin will combine forces with a slow-moving front and result in flooding rainfall.

Residents of the Atlantic Seaboard should expect impacts ranging from disruptions to travel and outdoor activities to power outages, property damage and risk to lives.

Joaquin thrashed islands in the Bahamas as a Category 4 hurricane from Thursday afternoon through Friday afternoon before it weakened slightly to a Category 3.

In the central Bahamas, dozens were reported trapped in their homes, out of the reach of authorities. Thousands are without power in the islands and all schools were closed.

Through Friday night, wind gusts could reach between 75 and 120 mph on some of the Bahamas’ east-central islands.

At 8 p.m. Easter Time Friday, the eye of Joaquin was centered about 25 miles west-northwest of San Salvador in the central Bahamas, Weather.com reported.

There is a threat of flooding from Virginia to the Carolinas, Accuweather said.

The East Coast’s current drenching is not directly from Joaquin but from upper-atmospheric conditions forcing wet Atlantic air onto the continent, as Wired.com explained.

Joaquin is the third hurricane of Atlantic hurricane season and the 10th named storm of the year.

WJLA-TV in Washington reported some store shelves already were empty on Thursday as residents stocked up on supplies.

Governors of Atlantic Seaboard states were preparing for the storm Thursday.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie activated his state Office of Emergency Management.

The New York Times reported North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory ordered state agencies to prepare for flooding, anticipating rain totals of up to 20 inches.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan also declared a state of emergency.

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