By Caribbean News Now contributor
MIAMI, USA — Tropical storm conditions were expected to reach portions of the Lesser Antilles on Thursday afternoon, making outside preparations difficult or dangerous. A tropical storm warning is in effect for Barbados, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Saint Lucia. A tropical storm watch is in effect for St Vincent and the Grenadines Interests in the central and northern Lesser Antilles should monitor bulletins issued by national meteorological services.
According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami, at 8:00 am EDT on Thursday, the centre of Tropical Storm Kirk was located about 60 miles (95 km) east-northeast of Barbados and about 170 miles (275 km) east-southeast of Martinique, moving toward the west-northwest near 16 mph (26 km/h). This general motion, with a slight decrease in forward speed, is expected over the next few days. On the forecast track, the centre of Kirk will move across the Lesser Antilles within the tropical storm warning area by Thursday evening.
Maximum sustained winds are near 50 mph (85 km/h) with higher gusts. Gradual weakening is anticipated during the next couple of days, but Kirk is forecast to move across the Lesser Antilles and into the eastern Caribbean Sea as a tropical storm.
Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles (220 km), mostly north and east of the centre.
Kirk is expected to produce total rainfall of 4 to 6 inches across the northern Windward and southern Leeward Islands with isolated maximum totals up to 10 inches across Martinique and Dominica. These rains may produce life-threatening flash floods and mudslides. Across eastern Puerto Rico, Kirk is expected to bring 2 to 4 inches with isolated maximum totals of 6 inches by Friday and Saturday.
The regional airline, LIAT, has announced the cancellation of several flights as Kirk moved closer towards the Lesser Antilles.
LIAT said that several of its flights would either be delayed or cancelled “in the interest of passenger and crew safety” and that it would continue to track the system and update passengers on changes to its schedule.
Marine conditions will deteriorate during Thursday into early Friday and small craft owners have been advised to secure their vessels.