Tropical Storm Rafael forecast track. NHC/NOAA graphic
By Caribbean News Now contributor
MIAMI, USA -- An area of low pressure located over the eastern Caribbean Sea about 125 miles west-southwest of Dominica became Tropical Storm Rafael on Friday evening.
According to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, at 7:30 pm EDT, Rafael was moving toward the north-northwest near 12 mph and this general motion was expected to continue Friday night. A turn toward the north is expected on Saturday. On the forecast track, the centre of Rafael will move through the eastern Caribbean Friday night and then move near or over the Virgin Islands on Saturday or Saturday night.
Reports from an Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds are near 40 mph, with higher gusts. Little change in strength was expected Friday night, with slow strengthening possible on Saturday through Sunday.
Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 150 miles, mainly to the southeast of the centre.
Tropical storm conditions are expected across the Lesser Antilles and the Virgin Islands during Friday night and Saturday. Tropical storm conditions are possible over Puerto Rico, Culebra and Vieques on Saturday night and Sunday.
Rafael is expected to produce total rainfall amounts of 3 to 5 inches, with isolated maximum amounts of 10 inches, over the Lesser Antilles and the Virgin Islands. These rains could cause life-threatening flash-floods and mudslides, especially in mountainous terrain.
Dangerous surf conditions are possible in the Lesser Antilles and the Virgin Islands on Friday night through Sunday.
Summary of watches and warnings in effect:
A tropical storm warning is in effect for:
• U S Virgin Islands
• British Virgin Islands
• Anguilla, Barbuda, St Kitts, Nevis, Antigua and Montserrat
• Saba, St Eustatius and St Maarten
• St Martin
• Guadeloupe, Desirade, Les Saintes, Marie Galante
• St Lucia
A tropical storm watch is in effect for Puerto Rico, Culebra and Vieques.
Meanwhile, short-lived Tropical Storm Patty, located about 265 miles east-northeast of the central Bahamas, weakened as expected to a tropical depression on Friday.
Patty was stationary on Friday and little motion was expected Friday night. A west-southwestward motion is expected to begin on Saturday and continue through dissipation.
Patty is expected to become a post-tropical remnant low by Saturday and dissipate by Sunday.