BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Tuesday August 23, 2016 – Tropical Storm Gaston formed off the African coast yesterday evening and has the potential to become the first major hurricane of the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season. But it’s another system over the Atlantic – a tropical wave that may develop into Tropical Storm Hermine – that poses a threat to islands in the northern Caribbean Sea, forecasters say.
Conditions are favourable for Gaston to become a hurricane as early as today, according to the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) in Miami. At 11 a.m., the storm which was carrying maximum sustained winds of 65 miles per hour, with higher gusts, was about 685 miles west of the southernmost Cabo Verde Islands.
Gaston was moving west northwestward at 21 miles per hour and indications are that over the next week it will take a path similar to that of Fiona, which is now barely holding on as a depression. Staying on that path, Gaston would not pose an immediate threat to land but there is some potential for the system to be drawn close to Bermuda beyond the next week.
During this weekend, Fiona or its leftover showers and thunderstorms could also wander southwest of Bermuda, AccuWeather hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski said.
But it is the other tropical disturbance, Invest 99L, which was located about 400 miles east of the Lesser Antilles early this morning, that will be the most impactful of the three systems in the Atlantic.
The NHC says the system has a medium chance of development into a tropical depression or Tropical Storm Hermine over the next two to five days as it brings heavy rains to the Leeward Islands.
“Environmental conditions are somewhat conducive for development of this system during the next couple of days while it moves west-northwestward at 15 to 20 mph near the northern Leeward Island and the Greater Antilles,” it said. “Large-scale conditions could become more conducive later this week while the system moves near Hispaniola and then the southeastern and central Bahamas.”
An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft is scheduled to investigate the disturbance this morning.
The system should reach the Lesser Antilles late today or early tomorrow and then spread through the northeastern Caribbean islands into Thursday.
The NHC said interests from the islands of the northeastern Caribbean Sea to the Bahamas should therefore monitor the progress of this system, as gusty winds, heavy rains, and possible flash floods and mud slides could occur over those areas, whether or not a storm forms.