FIRST ALERT: Tropical system slowly getting better organized
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - The system in the Caribbean is close to becoming a tropical storm.
The latest data from the National Hurricane Center indicates that the system in the Caribbean is close to tropical storm strength. Tropical storm force winds are occurring, but the system does not yet have a very well defined circulation.
At 5:00 PM, the system was centered near latitude 16.9 North, longitude 65.5 West. The system is moving toward the west-northwest near 17 mph and this general motion is expected to continue during the next few days. On the forecast track, it is expected to pass near or over the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico tonight, be near or over Hispaniola on Wednesday, and be near the southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands on Thursday.
Maximum sustained winds are near 35 mph with higher gusts. Gradual strengthening is forecast during the next day or so and the disturbance is expected to become a tropical storm tonight. Some weakening is likely while the system interacts with Hispaniola on Wednesday.
Heavy rainfall is possible along the track. Over the Leeward Islands, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic, 2 to 4 inches, with isolated maximum totals of 6 inches are possible. Heavy rainfall could lead to flash, urban, and small stream flooding, along with possible rapid river rises and the potential for mudslides across the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. Over Haiti, the Turks and Caicos, eastern Bahamas, and eastern Cuba1 to 3 inches of rain is possible with isolated maximum totals of 5 inches.
The forecast track takes it near or over the mountainous areas of Puerto Rico and Hispaniola which may lead to weakening or even the dissipation of the storm. In addition, wind shear and dry air in the upper atmosphere will tend to keep the storm from strengthening dramatically.
Direct impacts to the Carolinas look unlikely at this point. It’s possible some of the leftover tropical moisture from Fred could arrive in the Carolinas next week but it’s too early to know for certain.
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