TS Bret increases in intensity as eastern Caribbean put on alert
By The Star Staff
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami issued an advisory Wednesday on Tropical Storm Bret, which was gaining strength as it moved westward, and was investigated by the U.S. Air Force on Wednesday afternoon.
According to the NHC, Bret was 375 miles (605 kilometers) east of Barbados, with maximum sustained winds of 65 miles per hour (100 kilometers per hour) and moving at 15 miles per hour (224 kilometers per hour) at 5 p.m. Wednesday. The minimum central pressure was estimated at 1000 millibars.
The storm was expected to approach the Lesser Antilles today, pass through these islands late today and overnight, and then move west through the eastern and central Caribbean on Friday and Saturday.
The NHC has issued a tropical storm warning for St. Lucia, and a tropical storm watch for Barbados, Dominica and Martinique.
The warning indicates that tropical storm conditions are expected in St. Lucia within the 36 hours of the time the warning was issued. Surveillance means those conditions are possible in Barbados, Dominica and Martinique within the next 24 to 48 hours.
An increase in Bret’s strength was expected before the storm was to reach the Lesser Antilles. However, Bret is forecast to weaken starting Friday once it moves over the Caribbean Sea, and is likely to dissipate on Saturday.
Tropical storm-force winds extend up to 59 miles from the center.
Through Saturday, rainfall accumulations of 3 to 6 inches with maximum amounts of 10 inches are expected in parts of the Lesser Antilles, from Guadeloupe to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, including Barbados. The heavy rains could cause flash flooding, especially in higher altitude areas, and urban flooding is also possible.
Storm surges generated by Bret were to begin affecting parts of the Lesser Antilles today. The storm surges are likely to cause surf conditions and rip currents that can be life-threatening. “Residents and tourists are urged to consult advisories from their local national weather service,” the NHC recommended.
The Captain of the Coast Guard Port in San Juan established the status of WHISKEY port for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The captain of the Port of San Juan strongly urged the maritime community to remain vigilant and take necessary precautions as Tropical Storm Bret moves into the Caribbean.
During the WHISKEY port status, the port facilities are currently open to all commercial traffic and all transfer operations may continue as long as the WHISKEY status is maintained.
Pleasure craft are advised to seek a safe harbor. Maritime and port facilities are reminded to review and update their severe weather response plans and to make additional preparations necessary to be adequately prepared in the event of a potential impact to the area.