The National Hurricane Center (NHC, in English) classified this morning as a tropical depression the wave that is about 805 miles east of the Lesser Antilles.
The weather agency reported in its first 11:00 am bulletin that The system increased its maximum sustained winds to 35 miles per hour and registered a barometric pressure of 1009 millibars (mb), which implies that it achieved a slight intensification compared to the state it was in yesterday. Its center of circulation is located at latitude 16.6 degrees North and longitude 49.6 degrees West, moving west at a rate of 14 miles per hour (mph).
A tropical depression is a system that has a slight center of circulation that is defined and the intensity of its maximum sustained winds is 38 mph or less.
“On the forecast track, the center of this system is forecast to move across the Lesser Antilles through Friday and Friday night and then near the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico by the weekend.”noted the NHC.
He also anticipated that it could place Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands under a tropical storm watch as soon as this afternoon.
The model projection this morning anticipated a strong tropical wave or tropical depression passing over Puerto Rico. Nevertheless, the National Hurricane Center projects a weak tropical storm, with maximum sustained winds of 46 mph passing near the island.
However, the uncertainty remains high and there is a margin of error with the trajectory and intensity, because the system will face an area where there are shear winds and dry air that could limit a gradual development of its center of circulation.
If it became a tropical storm, the cyclone would be named Fiona and would be the sixth named storm this season.
Regardless of its cyclonic development, intensity or trajectory, both the National Hurricane Center (NHC, in English) as the National Weather Service (SNM) in San Juan anticipate an event of showers and thunderstorms for the region that will begin as soon as this Friday and could extend through the weekend, subject to the humidity left by the system after passing through the area.
For his part, the meteorologist and interim director of the SNM, Ernest Moralesexplained to The new day The good news regarding the analysis of this tropical wave is that the system will face shear winds and dry air during its journey towards the region, so this would prevent a rapid or significant strengthening before reaching Puerto Rico.
“There has been a slight improvement in the organization’s system in question. Even so, there are shear winds near our region, so we see that the models, although they intensify it a bit, already for tomorrow when it approaches our region they project it losing organization”, pointed out the expert.
The main global models are the Global Forecast System (GFS), also known as the “American model”, and the European (ECMWF). Both resources agree, in their recent projection runs, that the depression will pass over Puerto Rico as a strong event of rains and gusty winds.
“What worries us now is the rain associated with it, since the system is quite extensive and the movement of translation must be observed, because at first the models showed that it was slowing down and it is necessary to see if that continues. If that happens (it slows down its movement), then yes, it would be a significant rain event,” Morales warned.
The National Hurricane Center has already scheduled a system reconnaissance mission for tomorrow, with one of the hurricane hunting planes the reservation of the United States Air Force (AF, in English). In addition, there are already three flights scheduled for next Friday: two with AF planes and one that belongs to the planes of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, in English).
Morales stressed that the population should not focus on questioning whether this system will become a tropical storm or hurricane, because that is not the likely scenario, considering that it is less than five days away from the island.
On the contrary, the expert suggested taking into account that the SNM forecast sees an event of heavy rains for this weekend, which could generate floods, landslides and overflowing of rivers and streams.
“It cannot be ruled out that near the strongest thunderstorms we will have gusts of wind, but the strongest impact of this event will be the rains. This is because we have had a lot of rain in the past few weeks and the soils are saturated”he pointed.
“What is exhorted to the public is that if you live in an area prone to floods or landslides, be prepared. They have to be prepared so that they know what to do in case we are issuing special products in terms of surveillance or warning of flash floods. It is also not the time to be in the rivers on the weekend”, he added.
The SNM preliminarily estimated that between four and six inches of rain could accumulate in a general way on the island. Quantities such as those estimated can cause widespread flooding and landslides, as well as flooding of rivers, streams and creeks.
“We are talking about a generalized rain event for the entire island. But it’s all going to depend on how fast you move and how wide your moisture field is.”Morales pointed out.
The passage of this system through the region could also make the waves in local waters choppy, but it would not be with the same intensity as the storm surge that arrived earlier this week.