Tropical Storm Emily, the fifth named storm of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season, developed at 23:30 UTC on August 1 and is currently located in the eastern Caribbean Sea, approximately 245 miles (390 kilometers) southeast of San Juan in Puerto Rico, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). Emily packs sustained winds of around 40 mph (65 kmph). The storm is traveling in a westerly direction but is expected to take a turn towards the west-northwest over the next 24 hours and approach the island of Hispaniola tonight and tomorrow. The NHC said tropical storm-force winds extend 70 miles (110 kilometers) from the center of the storm.
A tropical storm warning is in effect for Guadeloupe, Desirade, Les Saintes, Marie Galante, Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra and the Dominican Republic. A tropical storm watch has also been issued for the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Kitts and Nevis, Haiti, Montserrat and Antigua. Tropical storm conditions are already occurring in the warning area of the Leeward Islands. There have been no early reports of damage here. Tropical storm conditions are expected in Puerto Rico, Culebra and Vieques later today and in the Dominican Republic tonight. The NHC said Emily could bring up to 4 inches (100 millimeters) of rain to the Leeward and Windward Islands and up to 10 inches (255 millimeters) to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, enough to cause life threatening flash floods and mudslides in mountainous areas. Storm surge warnings have also been issued, with waves up to 2 feet (0.6 meters) above normal tide levels expected in the tropical storm warning area. The NHC added that the surge will be accompanied by large and dangerous waves near the coast.
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On its current path, Emily is projected to move across the northeastern Caribbean Sea today and approach the Dominican Republic and Haiti tonight and tomorrow. Emily’s intensity is expected to strengthen over the next 36 hours but retain its tropical storm status. Although there is significant uncertainty in both the forecast track and intensity, the NHC currently expects Emily to move across the Dominican Republic and Haiti on August 3. The NHC then has Emily’s strength fluctuating as it interacts with land before re-intensifying as it moves through the Bahamas towards the east coast of the United States. The NHC has Emily retaining its tropical storm status through the 5-day forecast range. However, forecast models vary significantly, with some showing Emily tracking to the west of Florida into the Gulf of Mexico and others are expecting the storm to track to the east of the state. Long-term forecasts are subject to potentially large errors in both track and intensity and forecasters stress it is too early to say if Emily will threaten the United States.
Separately, Don, the fourth named storm of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season, made landfall near Baffin Bay in southeastern Texas at 03:00 UTC on July 30. Don weakened on its approach to Texas and hit the coastline as a tropical depression. While forecasters initially warned of up to 7 inches (180 millimeters) of rainfall as the storm came ashore, Don only brought 1-2 inches (25-50 millimeters) rain to Texas. No major wind damage was reported. Due to the sparse population of the landfall region and Don’s relatively weak winds, AIR Worldwide said it did not expect significant insured losses from the event.
Sources: National Hurricane Center, WSI, Associated Press, Reuters News, Agence France Presse, AIR Worldwide
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