Tropical storm

Chantal threatens Caribbean; South Florida in cone

Cmorgan@MiamiHerald.comJuly 8, 2013 

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This July 8, 2013 NASA GOES Project handout satellite image shows Tropical Storm Chantal as it approaches Barbados. Chantal, the third named storm of the 2013 hurricane season which formed in the Atlantic overnight, headed towards the Caribbean Sea on Monday, the US National Hurricane Center reported. At 0900 GMT Chantal was located about 1,130 kilometers (705 miles) east of Barbados packing maximum sustained winds of 65 kilometers (40 miles) per hour, the NHC said. The storm is moving in a northwesterly direction at 43 kilometers per hour. If it continues on its current path it will reach southern Puerto Rico and the island of Hispaniola -- shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti -- on Wednesday or Thursday, according to the NHC forecast. Tropical storm warnings are in effect for the French islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe, as well as for Barbados, Dominica and Santa Lucia, the NHC said. AFP PHOTO / HO / NASA GOES PROJECT == RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE / MANDATORY CREDIT: "AFP PHOTO / NASA GOES Project / NO SALES / NO MARKETING / NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS / DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS == HO/AFP/Getty Images

HANDOUT — AFP/Getty Images

Fast-moving Tropical Storm Chantal is expected to sweep across a string of islands over the next few days and could bring nasty weather to South Florida by the weekend.

The southern third of the state is in Chantal’s forecast cone, but the National Hurricane Center expects the storm to weaken considerably by late Friday or Saturday when it could be over the Bahamas or South Florida.

The storm’s maximum winds increased to 60 mph on Tuesday afternoon and Chantal is expected to continue gaining strength to 65 mph over the next three days as it barrels through the Lesser Antilles and into the Caribbean. The forecast track takes it south of Puerto Rico and potentially across the island of Hispaniola on Wednesday and Thursday before it begins to slow and turn sharply to the northwest.

The storm’s speed — it was rocketing west-northwest at 29 mph — is expected to inhibit its development, said Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the hurricane center. As it slows and turns more toward South Florida, forecasters expect Chantal to lose much of its punch after crossing the mountains of Haiti. From there, it will also run into increasingly strong wind shear expected to knock it back to a 35 mph tropical depression.

“The trend is that there will be a continued weakening,’’ Feltgen said.

The storm’s swift pace also could reduce flooding damage to vulnerable countries like Haiti. Chantal was expected to bring two to four inches of rain to the Leeward and Windward Islands. It’s too soon to tell what impact the third named storm of the season could have on South Florida.

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