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Heavy rain, flooding in Joaquin forecast for First State

Forecasters say a heavy storm system may be compounded later this weekend or early next week should Hurricane Joaquin stray closer to the eastern seaboard.

The National Weather Service predicts heavy rain at times and other severe weather.

"We could have several inches of rainfall," said meteorologist Mitchell Gaines, noting up to seven inches of rain in eastern Sussex County and up to five inches possible for the rest of Delaware over the next week. "Also, for the beaches – particularly along the Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean as well – we could see some pretty significant flooding.”

Gaines says onshore winds will also begin to ramp up over the coming days, meaning potential beach erosion and moderate to major coastal flooding.

The latest projected tracking for Hurricane Joaquin is pushing it more toward the open Atlantic, but Gaines says the region will still feel the effects of its wind and rain.

“That’ll be pulling a lot of water toward the coastline. But the main difference between Joaquin and no Joaquin, winds wouldn’t be as strong Sunday or early next week as they would be if Joaquin were to come closer to the coast.”

The National Hurricane Center upgraded Joaquin was a Category 4 hurricane causing damage in the Bahamas with sustained winds up to 130 mph.

The governors of New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia have declared state of emergencies in the face of heavy rainfall and projected flooding, but Gov. Jack Markell (D) has not followed suit at this time.

Markell spokesperson Kelly Bachman says they are monitoring conditions with state and national officials, "...and will be ready to communicate and respond to any issues that may arise across the state, should it be necessary."

"Residents in flood-prone areas of the state should begin to prepare accordingly and monitor communications from state and local agencies for updates," said Bachman.

But the weather threat has led events such as UD’s Coast Day set for Sunday in Lewes to be canceled or postponed.  Delaware State Parks is also closing campgrounds at Cape Henlopen, Delaware Seashore and Trap Pond State Parks. This weekend’s NASCAR races in Dover remain as scheduled, but officials at Dover International Speedway say they are monitoring the situation.

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