MANATEE -- Hurricane Danny shaped up Thursday as a compact storm, a possibly more dangerous menace able to quickly intensify.
Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center said Danny remained more than 1,000 miles east of the Windward Islands with sustained winds of 80 mph. Danny was making slow progress, moving west-northwest at just 10 mph. Forecasters expect Danny to continue intensifying over the next 24 hours, but then lose steam before it reaches the Lesser Antilles Sunday afternoon.
Forecasters say Danny is an "unusually small" storm, complicating their work. Small storms can build steam and just as rapidly weaken, fluctuations that are "notoriously difficult to forecast."
Hurricane Danny has
strengthened slightly, and its track remains the same, according to Bay News 9 meteorologist Mike Clay.
The overall cloud pattern of Danny continued to improve with the development of a tiny eye.
"Danny is an unusually small tropical cyclone," Clay said
Model guidance continues to be in good agreement on Danny moving west-northwestward for the next 48 hours or so, followed by a turn toward the west, Clay reported about 5 p.m. Thursday.
Low shear is expected to continue along the forecast track for the next 24 hours or so. However, by 36 hours and beyond, vertical wind shear is expected to increase, which should induce weakening, especially as Danny approaches or moves through the Leeward Island.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration aircraft from MacDill and Air Force Reserve Unit reconnaissance aircraft will investigate Danny on Friday afternoon.
"At this time, all major computer models show Danny having no impact in our area," Clay said.
If Danny makes it into the Caribbean as a hurricane, it will be the first hurricane in the Caribbean since 2012 when Ernesto and Sandy emerged.
No coastal watches or warnings are in effect.
At 5 p.m. Thursday, the center of the eye of Hurricane Danny was located by satellite near latitude 13.0 north, longitude 45.7 west. Danny is moving toward the west-northwest near 10 mph, and this general motion is expected to continue in Saturday.
Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 80 mph with higher gusts. Some additional strengthening is forecast during the next 24 hours, but a weakening trend is expected to begin after that.