Tropical Storm Heads For Florida

In Americas, Floods & Storms, News Headlines

Emily, the fifth tropical storm of this year’s hurricane season, may reach the Florida coast this weekend.
Although the storm looks unlikely to become the season’s first Atlantic hurricane, it has prompted forecasters to warn coastal residents about this year’s season all the same.

“Tropical Storm Emily is providing a good reminder that we are entering the peak of hurricane season, so it is a good time to check supplies,” says Dennis Feltgen of the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Puerto Rico was spared any major damage from rain and wind as outer bands of the storm passed Tuesday.

Emily was headed to the island of Hispaniola, shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and could hit there Wednesday or Thursday.

“Emily will lose strength as it passes over Hispaniola and then may pick up strength over the Bahamas,” Feltgen says. Some forecast models, however, suggest the storm’s strength may dissipate after hitting the island.

“Conditions are not ideal for Emily to develop into a hurricane,” says meteorologist Bradley Sutker of Unisys Weather Information Systems in Malvern, Pa. “It looks like this will head east of Florida and head due north from there, possibly towards the Outer Banks of North Carolina.”

Most likely Florida will just see heavy rains from the storm, which may affect the launch of a NASA rocket this weekend.

“We are watching it closely,” says NASA weather chief John Madura of Kennedy Space Center. The space agency plans to launch its Juno mission to Jupiter on Friday, when rains now offer a 30% chance of halting the countdown, he says, with a 60% likelihood of a delay Saturday and Sunday.

Present estimates place the tropical storm’s expected path too far east of Cape Kennedy to pass over the launch pad, Madura adds, although NASA reminded workers to prepare their homes for a storm, in case they need to work through Emily.

Late Tuesday, Emily was about 120 miles south of Ponce, Puerto Rico, with 50-mph winds, the hurricane center said. Tropical storm warnings are issued only 36 hours in advance of storms, Feltgen notes, suggesting forecasts for Emily could change later in the week.

Meanwhile in the Pacific, Hurricane Eugene strengthened to a Category 3 storm, with 115-mph winds, south of Baja California and is no threat to land.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration plans an updated look at this year’s hurricane season on Thursday. The season typically peaks in early September.

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