Tropical Depression 4 forms in the Atlantic
The governments of Dominica and Martinique have activated tropical storm warnings as Tropical Storm Bret strengthens somewhat ahead of its passage through the Eastern Caribbean today (June 22).
St Lucia, which first effected a tropical storm warning yesterday, has since upgraded its alert level to a hurricane watch, while St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Barbados, remain on tropical storm watch.
Authorities in Barbados, St Lucia and Martinique have moved to shut down schools and nurseries by 1:00 pm local time ahead of the arrival of one of the season’s first tropical storms.
St Lucian Prime Minister Philip Pierre said at a Wednesday press conference that businesses and government offices would also be forced to close from 1:00 pm. The country’s two airports will also shut from 10.30 am, he added, in line with advice from aviation authorities.
In the neighboring French-Caribbean territory of Martinique, authorities announced that schools and nurseries would also shut on Thursday, but businesses could remain open.
The Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) advised that Bret will impact sections of the Eastern Caribbean as as strong tropical storm, but the system would fall just short of hurricane territory, and begin a slow deterioration later on Thursday into Friday.
As at 8:00 am Atlantic Standard Time (AST), the centre of Bret was located near latitude 13.6 North, longitude 57.0 West—or roughly 265 kilometres east of Barbados.
Bret is moving west at 24 kilometres/hour, packing maximum sustained winds near 110 kilometres/hour, with higher gusts.
“On the forecast track, the center of Bret is expected to approach the Lesser Antilles today, move across the Lesser Antilles this evening and tonight, and then move westward across the eastern and central Caribbean Sea Friday and Saturday,” the NHC advisory read.
“Little change in strength is forecast today while Bret approaches the Lesser Antilles. Weakening is anticipated to begin tonight or Friday after Bret passes the Lesser Antilles, and the system is likely to dissipate over the central Caribbean Sea by Saturday night,” it added.
Meanwhile, in a most unusual start to a previously forecast “near-normal season”, NHC meteorologists are also tracking Tropical Depression Four in the central tropical Atlantic Ocean.
TD Four, whose centre of was located near latitude 10.9 North, longitude 41.1 West at 5:00 am AST, is anticipated to reach tropical storm strength as Cindy.
“Some strengthening is forecast during the next few days, and the depression is expected to become a tropical storm in a day or so,” the NHC advised.
Though initially following a similar path as Bret, Cindy may not directly impact the Leeward Islands, with computer-generated models predicting her skirting just north of the island chain.
Still, the compact disturbance continues to barrel west at 19 kilometres/hour, packing maximum sustained winds near 55 kilometres/hour, with higher gusts.