Friday, August 19, 2011

Tropical Storm Harvey forms; new waves looming

Tropical Storm Harvey formed Friday off Honduras but the system Florida ought to keep an eye on next week trails 2,500 miles behind in the Atlantic Ocean.

Harvey became the eighth named storm of a season just entering its traditional peak period, with two more waves looming that the National Hurricane Center gave a medium chance of developing.

Harvey posed a threat to Central America, where it was expected to brush the Honduran coast before making landfall in Belize sometime Saturday. Forecasters said the storm could bring winds of up to 40 mph and three to five inches of rain across Honduras, Belize, Guatemala and Mexico, potentially enough to trigger flooding and mudslides.

Forecasters also were watching a large tropical wave 800 miles east of the Lesser Antilles. The wave was moving from dry air into an area more conducive to development, center spokesman Dennis Feltgen said.

“Most of the computer models have latched on to this and are spinning it up,’’ he said.

It could strengthen over the weekend and impact Puerto Rico by Monday and, potentially, the Dominican Republic and Haiti Tuesday or Wednesday. From there, several models steer it generally toward Florida and the East Coast.

But Feltgen stressed that forecasts out five days or more can change dramatically. Just two weeks ago, for instance, Tropical Storm Emily broke apart as it crossed Hispaniola.

Computer models also suggested a second broad low pressure system off the African coast posed less of a threat, with its path potentially heading more northwest into the open Atlantic.

-- Curtis Morgan, Miami Herald

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