SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Tropical Storm Philippe is threatening to unleash heavy rains and flash flooding in the northeastern Caribbean on Monday before eventually spinning north into the open Atlantic, where it could strengthen into a hurricane around midweek, forecasters say.
The storm was about 80 miles (130 kilometers) east-southeast of Barbuda late Monday morning. Top sustained winds were at 50 mph (85 kph) with higher gusts, and Philippe was moving west-northwest at 7 mph (11 kph).
A tropical storm warning was issued for Barbuda, meaning that tropical storm conditions were expected on that island within 12 hours. A tropical storm watch was in effect for Antigua, meaning that such conditions were possible in that area. Forecasters said people in the northern Leeward Islands should monitor the storm`s progress as Philippe`s center was forecast to pass near or just northeast of the archipelago on Monday night.
The warning for Barbuda was issued as the storm moved a bit further west than initially expected, with the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology saying Philippe has not been a “well-behaved” storm or predictable in its trajectory. Initially it was projected to hit Puerto Rico as a depression.
Philippe was forecast to turn north-northwest by late Tuesday and then north on Wednesday into open waters.
Rainfall amounts expected through Tuesday include 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters) for Antigua and Barbuda and 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) for the rest of the Leeward Islands, the hurricane center reported.
Heavy rainfall from Philippe also could produce isolated to scattered flash flooding across Antigua and Barbuda through Tuesday, according to the advisory.
Officials in the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe warned of copious rains starting Monday afternoon, with accumulation of up to 4 inches (10 millimeters) in some areas.
Forecasters said strong wind shear is expected to prevent Philippe from strengthening in coming days, but shifting conditions could allow it to become a hurricane later in the week.
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