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(ACCUWEATHER) — Two new tropical storms have emerged in the eastern Atlantic Ocean and one could threaten some of the Caribbean Islands this week.
Tropical Storm Isaac and Tropical Storm Helene have joined Florence in the Atlantic Basin.
Helene, which is located off the west coast of Africa, has brought tropical-storm-force conditions to the Cabo Verde Islands over the weekend.
Farther west, Isaac will track toward the Lesser Antilles this week.
Lesser Antilles on alert for Tropical Storm Isaac
The anticipated track of Isaac will put the Lesser Antilles in line for possible impacts this week.
“There is a growing consensus that this system could threaten the Lesser Antilles during the middle or latter part of the week,” AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said.
Environmental conditions across the Atlantic will be favorable for strengthening as it tracks toward the islands.
“There is a significant chance this storm may become a hurricane along the way,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski added.
Regardless of strength, seas will become rough and dangerous for bathers and boaters along the east-facing portions of the islands as early as Wednesday.
Rain and wind would also increase during the second half of the week on the projected path of the tropical storm.
The current track of Isaac will take it south of the areas that bore the brunt of Irma and Maria’s wrath last year.
“All interests in the Lesser Antilles should monitor the progress of this system closely,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll said.
Now is the time for people on the islands to review or formulate a plan of action.
Cruise ships may have to alter their itinerary due to the storm.
People elsewhere in the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, Cuba, Jamaica and the Bahamas, and also in the United States should stay aware of the system’s track beyond the Lesser Antilles.
Will Helene threaten land?
Helene passed near the southernmost Cabo Verde Islands, bringing heavy rain, gusty winds and rough seas.
After moving on a westerly path over or very near to the Cabo Verde Islands this weekend, Kottlowski expects Helene to move more toward the northwest over the open waters of the central Atlantic through the week, posing no direct threat to land.
Strengthening Florence may pose serious threat to US East Coast later this week
All interests along the United States East Coast are being put on alert for a potential strike from Hurricane Florence during the second half of the week.
Confidence is increasing among AccuWeather meteorologists that Florence will pose a serious direct threat to part of the Eastern Seaboard this week.
States of emergency have been declared in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia due to possible impacts from the storm.
Florence, currently a Category 1 hurricane, is expected to regain major hurricane status (Category 3 or higher) as it continues to track westward and enters a favorable environment for intensification early this week.
Florence became the first Category 4 hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic season last week, but later weakened due to a zone of strong wind shear and cooler waters.
Seas to become dangerous well ahead of Florence
Large swells will propagate outward hundreds of miles away from the center of the storm this week.
The swells will make for rough seas along and well off the U.S. East Coast, Bermuda, the northern shores of the Caribbean islands and the south- and southeast-facing shores of the Canada Maritimes, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.
The frequency and intensity of rip currents will increase.
If caught in a rip current, do not panic or fight the current. Swim parallel to the shore until you are free of the current’s grip. Then swim at an angle, away from the current, toward the shore.
“The surf may be especially hazardous, since most lifeguards are not on duty past Labor Day,” Sosnowski said.
Operators of small craft should heed all advisories that are issued and remain in port if necessary.
Larger vessels, such as cruise or cargo ships, may have to reroute their courses to avoid Florence’s dangerous seas.
Florence may bring significant impacts to U.S. East Coast
Florence is expected to be as strong as a Category 4 hurricane by the time it makes its closest approach to the United States from Wednesday to Thursday.
AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said that a Florence landfall along the U.S. East Coast is becoming more likely, with the Carolinas at greatest risk late this week.
The exact track of the storm will determine which locations receive the worst of Florence’s damaging winds, heavy rain and storm surge flooding.
The strength and orientation of an area of high pressure over the western Atlantic will be key to Florence’s movement this week.
The high will guide Florence more toward the west-northwest around the middle of the week.
If the high weakens, Florence will make a quicker turn to the northwest and may skirt the coastline between the Carolinas and Virginia without making landfall.
If the high remains strong, Florence will take a slower turn to the northwest and be guided into the Southeast coast, possibly making landfall somewhere between Georgia and North Carolina.
Regardless of which scenario pans out, Kottlowski is concerned that the high will cause Florence to slow down and stall, potentially leading to a life-threatening flooding situation.
A slow-moving or stalled storm would also prolong coastal flooding concerns and may cause significant beach erosion along part of the Southeast and lower mid-Atlantic coasts.
Unfortunately, the scenario that kept the worst of Florence’s impacts out to sea is the least likely at this point.
“Residents and interests living along and near the Carolina coast and even up toward the Virginia Capes should closely monitor Florence and be ready to put their hurricane plan in place,” Kottlowski said. “If you do not have a hurricane plan in place, do so immediately.”
People should also pay close attention to and take the advice of local officials for their given area.
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