Sunday, August 24, 2014

Tropical Storm Cristobal forms near Bahamas; risk to Florida unclear

Posted on Sunday, 08.24.14

The southeastern Bahamas remained under a tropical storm warning as Cristobal heads northwest at about 9 mph.

Tropical Storm Cristobal

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Tropical Storm Cristobal blossomed from a messy system trudging through the Caribbean early Sunday, the National Hurricane Center said.

Cristobal, the third named storm of the season, packed 45 mph winds extending 140 miles from its center. Forecasters warned the storm will continue strengthening, possibly becoming a hurricane in the next three days. The storm may pose a risk to Florida, but tracking the messy storm has proved tricky.

On Sunday, hurricane center forecasters said the storm is likely to turn, dodging the coast. They expect the storm to slow down today and turn to the northwest as the storm encounters a trough in the mid to upper atmosphere. Over the next 48 hours, they expect Cristobal to turn east again, away from the coast, as the trough clears out.

Early tracks had pointed the storm away from the U.S. coast. But on Saturday, most tracks shifted the storm west, with some making the turn more gradual or not at all. On Sunday, most of those models also turned the storm east away from the U.S. as it approached Nassau in the Bahamas.

A Hurricane Hunter plane sent to investigate the storm early Sunday detected maximum winds at 45 mph as the storm trudged along about 120 miles from Long Island in the Bahamas. A tropical storm warning, issued Saturday, remains in effect for most of the southeast portion of the island chain.

The storm’s east side has become its messiest side, with heavier winds extending in that direction, forecasters said.

Cristobal had been cruising quickly across the Atlantic, but slowed to about 9 mph Sunday, a decrease in speed forecasters predicted as it passed Hispaniola and arrived in warm Bahamian waters.

The messy storm has been packing heavy rain. Forecasters warned it may dump four to eight inches in the southeastern Bahamas and up to a foot in Hispaniola, the island shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic. With its denuded countryside, Haiti is vulnerable to deadly flooding and mudslides. In 2012, Isaac and Sandy killed 100 people when the hurricanes sideswiped the country.


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