Tropical Storm Danny turned into Hurricane Danny on Thursday morning, becoming the first hurricane of the season.
The system, which is the fourth named storm of the season, was churning in the Atlantic Ocean about 1,100 miles east of the Windward Islands as of late Thursday afternoon.
Gilbert Miller, a weather forecaster with the Cayman Island’s National Weather Service, said although current predictions have the storm skirting the northern Caribbean and continuing a northward path, the storm could still affect the Cayman Islands.
“I think everyone should be prepared, no matter what happens with this storm,” Mr. Miller said.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami issued a bulletin at 5 a.m. Thursday that said Danny was “in no hurry,” moving west at 10 miles per hour, with winds at about 50 mph.
By 11 a.m., Danny had picked up enough speed to be designated a Category 1 hurricane, moving west-northwest at 12 mph with wind speeds of 75 mph.
The storm has a 10 nautical mile diameter eye, and, according to the National Hurricane Center, satellite images indicate that Danny is an unusually small tropical cyclone. To put the size of the storm into context, Nick Wiltgen, a Weather Channel meteorologist, tweeted that by his calculations, 321 Hurricane Dannys could fit into one Hurricane Sandy, the deadly 2012 storm that caused massive destruction in the Caribbean and the United States.
According to the National Hurricane Center, Danny’s compact size makes it subject to significant fluctuations in strength, which are “notoriously difficult” to predict.
Forecasters say Danny might have the opportunity to strengthen somewhat as low-shear conditions are expected to continue through Friday. On the other hand, the storm continues to be surrounded by dry mid-level air, which could slow its intensity.
Current models predict that Danny will weaken back into a tropical storm or tropical wave as it moves into the eastern Caribbean Sea in the next few days and encounters high shear and dry air.
Most models have the storm moving west or northwest, hitting the Windward Islands Monday and passing through Puerto Rico sometime Tuesday.