Tropical Storm Chantal formed in the central tropical Atlantic Ocean Sunday evening and is racing west northwestward towards the Lesser Antilles islands, packing winds of 40 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The storm’s maximum sustained winds as of midday Monday are near 45 mph with some strengthening expected over the next two days as reported by USA Today.
Chantal is centered about 550 miles east-southeast of Barbados and is moving west -northwest at 25 mph.
A tropical storm warning has been issued for Barbados, Dominica, St. Lucia, Martinique and Guadeloupe. A tropical storm watch is in effect for Puerto Rico and St. Vincent.
“A strong subtropical high pressure system over the central Atlantic is expected to provide a westward and then west northwestward track to the storm over the next few days, with little decrease in speed, according to a 10 p.m. forecast discussion message from National Hurricane Center Hurricane Specialist Todd Kimberlain and Warning Coordination Meteorologist Daniel Brown” according to NOLA.com.
“A second subtropical ridge over the western Atlantic should keep Chantal on the same heading until a weakness begins to develop over eastern North America late in the period,” the message said.
“Track guidance from forecast models begins to diverge after the first three days of the storm’s movement, the two forecasters said, with the official track keeping close to a consensus of models during the forecast period.
“‘Favorable environmental conditions and warm sea surface temperatures should allow Chantal to intensify some during the next few days,’ they said, with the highest winds predicted to reach 65 mph by 7 p.m. Central time on Tuesday.
“‘The possibility of land interaction with Hispaniola and Cuba in about 72-96 hours complicates the intensity forecast, but is likely to result in weakening, especially since upper-level westerly flow is forecast to begin to affect Chantal by that time.’”
According to AccuWeather meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski, Tropical Storm Chantal could enhance shower and thunderstorm activity across the Florida Peninsula later this week.
[Image by NASA via Wikimedia]