St Vincent, Barbados on hurricane watch as TS Gonzalo strengthens

Just shy of hurricane status, Tropical Storm Gonzalo continues to gather steam in the Atlantic Ocean on its journey to the Caribbean. (Photo: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

The governments of Barbados, as well as St Vincent and the Grenadines, have activated a hurricane watch as Tropical Storm Gonzalo grows in strength on its approach to the eastern Caribbean on Thursday (July 23).

As at 7:00 am Eastern Standard Time (EST) Gonzalo was located near latitude 9.8 North, longitude 47.9 West—or some 1,470 kilometres east of the southern Windward Islands.

According to the latest bulletin from the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) in Florida, maximum sustained winds from the tropical storm are clocking at 100 kilometres/hour, with higher gusts.

The NHC further forecasts Gonzalo to get stronger in intensity during the next couple of days, and could become a category 1 hurricane later today.

Moving westerly at 19 kilometre/hour, the Barbados Meteorological Service expects Gonzalo to maintain a generally westward motion at a faster forward speed later on Thursday.

The Bajan Met Service further noted that the system may turn toward the west-northwest on Saturday, which would have the centre of Tropical Storm Gonzalo pass 128 kiolmetres south of the island.

Watch the ninth advisory on Tropical Strom Gonzalo below:

“Gonzalo is expected to produce total rain accumulations of two to five inches, with isolated maximum amounts of 7 inches in Barbados and the Windward Islands from Friday night through Sunday night. Gonzalo is also expected to produce total rain accumulations of 1 to 2 inches in Trinidad and Tobago.  Rainfall in Barbados and the Windward Islands could lead to life-threatening flash floods,” the NHC advisory indicated.

A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area.  A watch is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous.

The US-based National Hurricane Center contended that additional hurricane watches or warnings will likely be required for some of these islands in the eastern Caribbean later today.