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Tropical Update: Tropical Storm Karen forms, Puerto Rico's eyes as Atlantic storms increase



A tropical Karen storm forms Sunday at 5am Southeast of the Windward Islands. It is likely to hit Puerto Rico mid-week as a tropical storm, though it is not ruled out that it will intensify in a hurricane shortly before landing there or passing right along the coast.

Puerto Rico is extremely vulnerable to tropical storms or hurricanes, given the extensive and ongoing recovery effort following Hurricane Maria that struck in 2017. The power grid remains fragile and interruptions occur even without significant storms and many people still still sleeping in temporary structures vulnerable to wind damage.

A tropical storm clock has been published for Puerto Rico, as well as for the United States and the British Virgin Islands. Tropical storm warnings are in effect for Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. By 11 a.m. Sunday, the center of circulation was between Grenada (south) and St. Vincent (north), and Karen was moving west-northwest at 13 mph.

Maximum sustained winds were 40 mph, but extended extremely wide area – extending 125 miles from the center. The storm is in a moderate to heavily chopped environment, which means that ambient winds are blowing at a different speed and / or height, and this will limit Karen's ability to consolidate thunderstorms and intensify over the next one to two days, according to National Hurricane Center.

For now, slight variations in power are possible, Karen is expected to start to strengthen as conditions become more favorable with lower wind shear levels by the end of Monday.

Recent forecasts call for Karen to bend north-northwest through the eastern Caribbean and then turn north when approaching Puerto Rico on Tuesday. He is likely to make his closest passage just east of Puerto Rico or Tuesday versus Wednesday. It is expected that during this period Karen will be intensified by tropical storms, with heavy rains and gusts and noxious winds possible in Puerto Rico.

Islands east of mainland Puerto Rico, including Víquez, Culebra, and the US Virgin Islands, can also see conditions for tropical storms and heavy rainfall, depending on the exact trail of the storm. Rainfall amounts are likely to vary significantly in Puerto Rico, depending on the Karen extreme runway and the way storm rainfall interacts with the island's topography.

While the tropical Karen storm may initially attempt to head north to the sea, it may be diverted west by the circulation around newly enriched Bermuda High. This could affect the Bahamas, or even the United States' East Coast, although there is considerable uncertainty about these options.

The Hurricane Center specifically mentioned that by day 5 of its forecast, the storm could stop. as it descends against this high pressure zone before moving slowly west.

In addition, the hurricane center says that the tropical wave between Cape Verde and the African coast has a 90 percent chance of developing into a tropical depression or tropical storm in the next 48 hours, Lorenzo is the next name on the list, and computer models indicate that this storm can escalate to a powerful hurricane as it sweeps west. However, at the moment the least chance of it is that it favors its return to the sea before it reaches populated areas in the Caribbean or the United States.

Meanwhile, the Tropical Storm Jerry is still moving north and is likely to cross just north of Bermuda on Wednesday. Wind gusts and showers are possible on the island, although the impact must be less than that of Hurricane Humberto just seven days before.


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