Hurricane Joaquin upgraded to Category 3

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Hurricane Joaquin is a Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph, the National Weather Service confirmed overnight. This classifies the storm as a "major hurricane."

The storm is expected to strengthen to a Category 4 storm as it moves past the Bahamas and eventually turns northward. It will weaken to a Category 2 by the time it approaches the North Carolina coastline later Sunday.

Regardless of its classification, any wind or rain the storm brings to the Carolinas could result in additional flooding and downed trees. Rain has been falling in Charlotte on-and-off since last Thursday. Nearly two inches have fallen in the Queen City with amounts as high as 10 inches in Boone. Regardless of the hurricane, another system could bring Charlotte an additional four inches of rain Friday night into Saturday. Any effects of the hurricane Sunday and Monday could topple trees and cause flooding of rivers and streams in an environment already rich in moisture.

There is still much uncertainty in the track of the hurricane. Different computer models spread the path of the storm as far south as Raleigh and as far north as New York City. The path of the storm will largely be affected by its interaction with the low pressure system dumping rain Friday night in Charlotte. That low will either catch the low and spin it into the Mid-Atlantic, or push it further northward. The determining factor will be when and how the two systems interact.

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