Home » Unlabelled » Tropical Storm Chantal Strengthens on Way to Caribbean Islands
Monday, July 8, 2013
The storm was 320 miles (515 kilometers) east-southeast of Barbados with top winds of 50 miles per hour, up from 45 mph earlier, moving west-northwest at 26 mph, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in an advisory before 8 p.m. New York time yesterday. Chantal is expected to reach the Lesser Antilles today and approach the Dominican Republic tomorrow, gaining strength before weakening.
“Conditions as it’s tracking close to the Lesser Antilles and into the eastern Caribbean are certainly favorable for additional strengthening, and we wouldn’t be surprised if it gets close to hurricane strength by tomorrow morning as it nears Hispaniola,” Brian Edwards, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania, said today.
Chantal is the third named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. The powerful systems can disrupt oil and natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico and threaten orange crops in Florida, the second-largest producer behind Brazil.
An estimated 4.2 million homes with about $1.1 trillion in property exposure are within storm-surge risk zones along the U.S. Gulf and Atlantic coasts, according to CoreLogic Inc. in Irvine, California, a property analysis company.
Tropical storm warnings have been issued for Martinique, Saint Lucia, Barbados, Dominica, Guadeloupe and Puerto Rico. Watches are in effect for St. Vincent, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Vieques and Culebra, as well as the Dominican Republic’s southern coast from Cabo Engano to Haiti’s border, the hurricane center said.
A storm warning means high winds, rain and waves will probably hit within 24 to 36 hours. A watch means those conditions are possible.
Chantal will probably come within 100 miles of Puerto Rico today, bringing gusty winds and rain to the island, Dan Kottlowski, an AccuWeather meteorologist in State College, Pennsylvania, said yesterday.
Tropical storm-strength winds of at least 39 mph reach out 90 miles from Chantal’s center. The storm is expected to drop 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) of rain, with some areas receiving as much as 6 inches.
The hurricane center’s five-day forecast track shows the storm losing strength and becoming a depression as it nears the Bahamas and moves into the Atlantic east of Florida.
Chantal’s top winds may reach 70 mph, just under the 74 mph threshold needed to be classified a hurricane, according to the center. The mountains of Hispaniola and eastern Cuba will probably tear at the storm’s structure, and it is expected to encounter wind shear that may also weaken it.
Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the nations which share Hispaniola, may get as much as 10 inches of rain as Chantal skirts the coastline, Kottlowski said. Haiti in particular is susceptible to landslides when heavy rains fall in its mountainous areas.
“If it really slows down, we could be looking at a huge amount of rain over Hispaniola,” he said. The storm could then track north through the Bahamas and possibly bring heavy rain to Miami late this week.
Forecasters are also watching an area of thunderstorms and rain off in the Bahamas. It’s given no chance of becoming a tropical system in the next two days, according to the hurricane center. Another storm may form in the mid-Atlantic in six to 10 days, Kottlowski said.
In the Pacific, Tropical Storm Erick weakened yesterday to 45 mph from 50 mph earlier and passed west of southern Baja California in Mexico, according to the center.
A tropical storm warning was issued for Baja California Sur from Santa Fe to La Paz. Erick was expected to drop 1 to 3 inches of rain and create life-threatening surf along the coast.