Omar has intensified to hurricane strength in the last 24 hours and continues to move gradually towards the northern Leeward Islands. It is a relatively small storm with hurricane force winds extending up to just 15 miles from the center. Omar is expected to stay on its north-easterly track in the next 48 hours, but it should start to accelerate and push through the northern Leeward Islands tonight.
According to Neena Saith, catastrophe response manager for Risk Management Solutions, the next day or two will be important.
“Hurricane Omar is forecast to intensify in the next 36 hours, but while most of the models anticipate it won’t extend beyond category 1 strength, there is still a chance for rapid intensification to occur and the official forecast by the National Hurricane Center calls for it to reach category 2 just before striking the islands,” Saith said.
A hurricane warning is in effect for the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Islands of Vieques and Culebra, St. Martin/Maarten, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Barthelemy, the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, St. Kitts and Nevis.
Saith said that Puerto Rico and the northern Leeward Islands could be subject to as much as 20 inches of rain, which may trigger flash floods and mud slides.
The National Hurricane Center warns of storm surge of 1-2 feet above normal levels close to Omar’s path.
Omar is the seventh hurricane of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season.
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