The Atlantic hurricane season has begun. The National Hurricane Center has designated Tropical Storm Dean, with winds up to 80 mph, as the first hurricane and issued a warning that it is headed for the Caribbean’s Lesser Antilles.
This morning the National Hurricane Center said Dean was about 485 miles east of Barbados and heading west at 24 mph. It is expected to reach the Lesser Antilles from Virgin Islands to Trinidad and Tobago early tomorrow, then threaten Jamaica and Mexico.
At the same time, Tropical Storm Erin, which has been pounding the Texas coast, appears to be waning.
The center issued a hurricane warning that hurricane conditions could hit Saint Lucia by tomorrow morning.
A hurricane watch — meaning hurricane conditions could arrive with 36 hours — is in effect for the islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe.
A tropical storm warning is in effect for Barbados, and a tropical storm watch for Antigua, St., Kitts, Nevis and Barbuda.
The center urged officials in the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Hispaniola to keep a close eye on Hurricane Dean’s progress.
Storm surge flooding of two to four feet is possible near the Dean’s center, according to U.S. officials. Rainfall could be two to five inches and cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides, they warned.
Erin has been downgraded to a Tropical Depression and the tropical storm warning that had been issued has been rescinded.
At 7 a.m., Eastern Time, Erin was located about 25 miles northeast of Corpus Christi. It is expected to move farther inland during the day. Maximum winds have decreased to 35 mph and should further weaken as it moves over land.
Total rain accumulation of three to six inches is expected over central and southern Texas.
The activity with Dean and Erin comes about a week after U.S. meteorologists updated their hurricane season prediction.
Government scientists are now predicting an 85 percent chance of an above-normal season, with the likelihood of 13 to 16 named storms, with seven to nine becoming hurricanes, of which three to five could become major hurricanes (Category 3 strength or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale).
In May, NOAA predicted a range of 13-17 named storms, with seven to 10 becoming hurricanes, and three to five becoming major hurricanes.
Source: National Hurricane Center – http://www.nhc.noaa.gov
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