UPDATE: Thursday at 1:00 p.m.

National Hurricane Center forecast models for Tropical Storm Nate, expected to form into a hurricane by the weekend, now show the Cayman Islands outside the zone projected to receive tropical storm-force winds.

The tropical storm is not forecast to hit the Cayman Islands. It is expected to reach its closest point to Grand Cayman Friday morning at some 275-miles southwest of the island.

The storm is currently between Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, and Puerto Lempira, Honduras.

A Tropical Storm Warning remains in effect for Sandy Bay Sirpi, Nicaragua, to Punta Castilla, Honduras. A Hurricane Watch is in effect for Punta Herrero to Rio Lagartos, Mexico.

UPDATE: Thursday at 10:45 a.m.

As of 10 a.m. local time, the center of Tropical Storm Nate had moved inland over northeastern Nicaragua.

The storm continued to pick up speed, moving at 9 miles per hour northwest. The system is expected turn north-northwest at a faster speed later today and continue on the trajectory through Friday night.

UPDATE: Thursday at 9:30 a.m.

Tropical Depression 16 was upgraded to Tropical Storm Nate as it neared the eastern coast of Nicaragua this morning.

A Tropical Storm Warning remains in effect from Sandy Bay Sirpi, Nicaragua, to Punta Castilla, Honduras.

A Hurricane Watch has been issued in Mexico from Punta Herrero to Rio Lagartos.

The tropical storm is not forecast to hit the Cayman Islands. It is expected to reach its closest point to Grand Cayman Friday morning at some 287-miles southwest of the island.

The National Weather Service has advised residents to follow local media for weather updates.

Swells from the storm are already affecting the coast of Nicaragua. Land areas around the northwestern Caribbean will be affected later this week. Swells will likely generate life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

Little change in storm strength is expected today.

Residents of Honduras, the Bay Islands, western Cuba and the Yucatan Peninsula are advised to monitor the progress of the storm.

Nate continued a northwestern motion at 8 miles per hour with maximum sustained winds of 40 miles per hour. The system was expected to pick up speed later in the day and through Friday night.

Tropical storm-force winds reaching 60 miles per hour are reaching outward from the storm, mostly affecting the ocean.

The center of the storm is forecast to pass over northeastern Nicaragua and eastern Honduras today. It will then move over the northwestern Caribbean Sea tonight and Friday.

Heavy rainfall and strong winds are expected across much of Central America. Nicaragua is expected to receive 15 to 20 inches of rain, with up to 30 inches falling in isolated areas.

Original story:

A tropical depression east of Nicaragua was forecast to intensify over coming days, as the system moved northwest toward the Gulf Coast.

The storm path was not projected to hit the Cayman Islands. The outer cone of tropical storm force winds, however, could affect the islands by Thursday evening or Friday morning.

The Cayman Islands National Weather Service advised that the storm poses no immediate risk to the islands, but urged residents to follow weather updates in local media.

Forecast models Wednesday showed Tropical Depression 16 moving northwest at 7 miles per hour. It was expected to hit the coast of Nicaragua early Thursday before moving north toward eastern Honduras and emerging over the northwestern Caribbean Sea on Friday.

The depression, if upgraded to a storm, would be named Nate.

The system was expected to bring 15 to 20 inches of rain and tropical storm conditions to portions of Nicaragua and Honduras through Thursday. Maximum rainfall could reach 30 inches in isolated areas. Costa Rica and Panama were expected to receive 2 to 5 inches of rain. Areas forecast to receive heavy rains are at risk of life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

A Tropical Storm Warning was issued from Sandy Bay Sirpi, Nicaragua, north to Punta Castilla, Honduras. The U.S. National Hurricane Center described the environmental conditions as conducive for the storm intensifying over the next 24 to 36 hours.

“Rapid intensification is a possibility over the northwestern Caribbean or southern Gulf of Mexico while the system is traversing rather warm and deep waters, although it remains to be seen how separate the depression becomes from a larger gyre over central America,” the National Hurricane Center’s official forecast said Wednesday morning.

Residents of the Bay Islands, western Cuba and the Yucatan Peninsula were advised to monitor the progress of the storm. The system is expected to continue strengthening as it moves over the Gulf of Mexico on Friday and through the weekend.

It may affect areas of the northern Gulf Coast as a hurricane by the weekend. Forecasters advised, however, that it is still too early to determine timing and intensity. Residents of the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Florida were advised to monitor the storm.

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