Forecasters warn Caribbean after new storm forms
They say Tropical Storm Katia could become a major Category 3 hurricane northeast of the Leeward Islands by Sunday morning.
FLORIDA, United States, Wednesday August 31, 2011 – The National Hurricane Centre (NHC) in Miami has warned that while the latest tropical storm, Katia, is not a hazard to land right now and probably won’t for the next five days, it could become a threat to parts of the Caribbean by Sunday.
Tropical Storm Katia, which formed overnight Monday, was this morning located about 985 miles west of the southernmost Cape Verde Islands and moving west northwest near 21 miles per hour. Its maximum sustained winds had increased to near 65 miles per hour.
According to the NHC, it should get stronger over the next two days and become a hurricane later today or early tomorrow.
It has been predicted that Katia will be a Category 3 hurricane – with maximum sustained winds of at least 111 miles per hour – northeast of the northern Leeward Islands by Sunday, but the NHC said its path is not certain.
"It's still well out to sea. A lot of things can happen...We don't show it affecting any land areas for five days. Beyond that is merely speculation," NHC senior hurricane specialist Richard Pasch told Reuters news agency, although recommending that the Caribbean should keep an eye on Katia.
He said Katia's likely track in about a week's time will depend on shifting weather patterns over the Atlantic and the US Coast.
Forecaster Rob Lightbown of Crown Weather Services also expressed the view that it was “way too early to be confident or certain on any one forecast track for Katia”.
However, he said he was “still leaning towards a track that takes Katia very close to, if not right over the northeastern Caribbean on Sunday and Monday followed by a track that takes Katia just east of the Bahamas next Wednesday and then northward near the US East Coast late next week and next weekend”.
“The highest threat areas after moving away from the northeastern Caribbean for Katia are Bermuda, the Canadian Maritimes and possibly eastern New England,” he added.
Lightbown noted that any further shifts to the south in the forecast track will put the northern Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico at a significant threat from Katia.
“All of our friends in the northeastern Caribbean should closely monitor Katia,” he therefore cautioned.
Katia is the 11th named storm of the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Track Katia in the Storm Centre.