UPDATE: Irene hits Puerto Rico as first Atlantic hurricane; headed for Southeast U.S.
UPDATE: Irene’s early development in the Atlantic Basin extremely rare
Not too long after Tropical Storm Harvey made landfall in Belize today, another tropical storm developed in the Atlantic Basin and poises a significant threat to portions of the Gulf Coast Region and Florida late next week.
Tropical Storm Irene, the ninth named storm of the season, formed 190 miles east of Dominica and or 215 miles east southeast of Guadeloupe Saturday evening with winds of 50 mph.
Irene was moving toward the west near 22 mph and a motion toward west-northwest at a slower rate of speed is expected during the next 48 hours with a forecast track through the Leeward Islands and into the northeastern Caribbean Sea on Sunday.
Irene is forecast to become the Atlantic’s first hurricane by Monday as it approaches the Dominican Republic.
With tropical storm force winds extending outward up to 120 miles from the center along its forecast track, Tropical Storm Warnings were issued for Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Vieques and Culebra, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maartin, Dominica, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, Antigua, Anguilla, Montserrat and the British Virgin Islands.
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Irene poises significant threat to portions of Gulf Coast and Florida
Once Irene passes through the islands and across eastern Cuba over the next several days, it could a pose a significant threat to portions of the Gulf Coast and Florida by late next week.
Forecast computer over the last few days have been persistent in curving whatever becomes of Irene up toward Florida or just west of the peninsula next Thursday into Friday.
Depending on the exact track, Irene as at least a tropical storm could impact areas from the Louisiana and Mississippi Gulf Coast eastward to Florida. There is also the chance, Irene could slide just east of the Florida Peninsula and threaten the Carolinas as it moves on a northerly direction.
The National Hurricane Center official forecast track takes Irene to a position just south of the Florida Peninsula, near the Keys Thursday afternoon as a hurricane.
This is a developing weather situation and everyone living along the Gulf Coast Region and Florida are strongly advised to monitor the latest information as it becomes available.
The hurricane threat to Mississippi and the Central Gulf Coast typically increases dramatically in late August and early September.
Apart from Irene, Harvey continues to move inland over Belize and northern Guatemala after making landfall as a strong tropical storm with winds of 60 mph. Sustained winds as of late Saturday evening were down to 40 mph and continued weakening is expected with Harvey becoming a tropical depression on Sunday.
The National Hurricane Center is expecting up to a total of 19 named storms to form in the Atlantic Basin by season ends November 30th.