Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tropical Storm Chantal heads for the Caribbean 

Tropical Storm Chantal on the Morning of 07/09/13
Courtesy NOAA

Looks like, just as the 2013 Hurricane Season Predictions indicated would happen, the tropics are starting to crank.

This morning, Chantal, the third named storm of the year, is working her way into the warm open waters of the Caribbean Sea.    Clipping along at some 23 knots, she'll be there shortly.  Early reports indicate she has had relatively mild effects on Barbados and St.Lucia so far this morning, but that winds in Martinique have been stronger.

The highest winds found by Hurricane Hunters have been around 60 mph, but thankfully, so far, the ones that have made their way onto the Windward Islands have been less severe.  They still have a bit of Chantal to endure, however.

Once she hits the open waters of the eastern Caribbean, the story could change.  The system is forecast to strengthen before arriving at the shores of Hispaniola sometime tomorrow.  That is where she could possibly do her first real damage.

Keep a careful eye on the path she takes over the Dominican Republic and/or Haiti.  If she goes over the more mountainous area, we could see a far weaker Chantal on her arrival in the southeastern Bahamas than we would if she travels over the flatter eastern part of the D.R.

Nevertheless, if you're in The Bahamas or on the east coast of the U.S., keep an eye on her.   Most of eastern Florida is already in the cone at this point.

And, for my cruising friends, if you're sailing out of Florida this weekend, PLEASE do yourself a favor, and arrange to arrive at your city of departure at least a day early.  An approaching storm could force a change in your ship's schedule.  (See Ten Tips for Cruising in Hurricane Season for more on that.)