The Eastern Caribbean finds itself in the crosshairs of a rapidly strengthening Tropical Storm Bret, which roared into cyclone intensity today (June 19) hours after becoming a tropical depression.
Though no warnings have yet to be activated, the US-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) urged countries not to leave preparations to chance as its meteorologists anticipate Bret to reach hurricane strength by late Wednesday.
Becoming the third named storm of what was previously forecast to be a “near-normal season”, the centre of the newly formed Tropical Storm Bret was located near latitude 11.3 North, longitude 42.2 West—or roughly 2,085 kilometres east of the southern Windward Islands.
Bret is moving westerly at 33 kilometres/hour, on a break-neck speed that experts say it could maintain for the next several days.
“On the forecast track, the system should be approaching the Lesser Antilles late this week. Strengthening is forecast, and Bret could become a hurricane in a couple of days,” the NHC advised.
Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 65 kilometres/hour, with higher gusts.
What’s more, tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles 75 kilometres from Bret’s centre.
Unlike this morning’s outlook, however, Bret is now expected to regress back to a tropical storm around Saturday afternoon, before likely impact with Hispaniola.
According to respected American meteorologist Philip Klotzbach, TS Bret has already broken several records, chief among them being the farthest east a tropical storm has ever formed this early into any hurricane season. Bret could also become second system in 90 years that reaches hurricane strength in the month of June, after the Trinidad cyclone of 1933.
Things continue to heat up for a rather unusual June start to the 2023 Hurricane Season, as NHC sleuths also monitor a second tropical wave poised to develop.
While remaining largely disorganised, the system, designated AL93, was last located several hundred miles south-southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands.
The NHC indicated that environmental conditions appear favorable for further development of this system, with another tropical depression forming “in a couple of days while the system moves westward at 10 to 15 mph across the eastern and central tropical Atlantic”.
At respective formation chances of 40 and 50 per cent over the next two-to-seven days, the next available name is Cindy.