JOAQUIN BECOMES A CATEGORY 3 HURRICANE AS IT MOVES TOWARD THE CENTRAL BAHAMAS…

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Hurricane Joaquin reached a new category of strength Wednesday evening as it drifts dangerously close to the Bahamas, and prospects are looking increasingly worrisome for the U.S. mainland as the official forecast raises the odds of the East Coast seeing its first landfalling hurricane in 15 months.

Hurricane warnings have been expanded to include more of the Bahamas as Hurricane Joaquin churns toward the nation of islands east of Florida.