According to the most recent bulletin from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Tropical Storm Noel’s projected track should keep it well away from the U.S. mainland. The storm, the 14th of the season, has caused widespread destruction in the Dominican Republic and Haiti on the island of Hispaniola (See previous article).
Noel is currently “moving very close or over the north coast of Cuba,” where a tropical storm warning is in effect, said the NHC. Although the storm isn’t expected to hit the U.S., the NHC warned that “interests in Southern Florida should monitor the progress of Noel. A tropical storm watch may be required for Southeast Florida later today.”
The Bahamas, however, are squarely in the storm’s path. As of 2:00 a.m. EDT Noel was about 285 miles (460 kms) south-southeast of Nassau in the Bahamas. The storm has been “moving toward the west-northwest near 13 mph (20 km/hr) during the past few hours,” said the NHC. “However, Noel is expected to turn to the northwest with the same forward speed later today. On this track the center of Noel should continue to move parallel to the north of coast of Cuba today.”
Noel’s maximum sustained winds have increased to near 55 mph (90 km/hr) with higher gusts, but the storm is far below hurricane strength of 72 mph (115 Km/hr). Some strengthening is forecast during the next 24 hours. Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 kms) mainly to the north of the center.
Source: National Hurricane Center – http://www.nhc.noaa.gov
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