Northern Caribbean braces for Tropical Storm Laura

Several islands in the eastern Caribbean are bracing for storm conditions with the formation of Tropical Storm Laura today, August 21.

Tropical storm warnings have been issued for Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, British and US Virgin Islands, St Eustatius, St Kitts-Nevis, St Martin and St Barthelemy.

Laura is located 375 kilometres east-southeast of the northern Leeward Islands with maximum sustained winds of 75 kph this morning.

“On the forecast track, the center of Laura will move near or over the northern Leeward Islands later today, near or over Puerto Rico Saturday morning, and near the northern coast of Hispaniola late Saturday and early Sunday,” said the US National Hurricane Center (NHC).

The storm remains disorganised and could degenerate or possibly become a major hurricane, the NHC said.

This satellite image released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows Tropical Storm Laura in the North Atlantic Ocean, Friday, Aug. 21, 2020. Laura formed Friday in the eastern Caribbean and forecasters said it poses a potential hurricane threat to Florida and the U.S. Gulf Coast. A second storm also may hit the U.S. after running into Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. (NOAA via AP)

Three to six inches of rain is possible over Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic and the Haitian Peninsula. The eastern and southern slopes of Puerto Rico are at risk of flash and urban flooding due to the heavy rainfall. What’s more, one to three inches of rain with isolated maximum totals of five inches is expected over the remainder of Haiti, the northern Leeward Islands, the Turks and Caicos and southeast Bahamas.

On its current path, which is still uncertain, it may pass north of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and the Bahamas before making its way to the United States.

A second system, Tropical Depression 14, could become a hurricane by early next week. The system is centered 255 kilometres east of the Honduran island of Roatan and has winds of 55kph. It is expected to cross the tip of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula on Sunday at or near hurricane force.

Heavy rainfall associated with the tropical depression are expected to impact eastern Honduras, the Cayman Islands and parts of the Yucatan.