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Hurricane Hunter aircraft en route to Tropical Storm Fiona – Orlando Sentinel | Gmx Pharm

Tropical storm warnings were issued for several Caribbean islands Thursday morning as Fiona pushes west, the National Hurricane Center said.

The sixth named storm of the year hasn’t changed significantly overnight, according to satellite imagery from Thursday morning. An Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft is en route to examine Fiona and should report its findings to the NHC sometime early this evening.

In its 2 p.m. update, the hurricane center said Fiona was moving west near 14 miles per hour, but “movement west with some decrease in forward velocity is expected to continue through late Saturday, with a westward turn.” -Northwest is possible further Sunday.” As of the last update, Fiona was about 465 miles east of the Leeward Islands. Maximum sustained winds were estimated at 50 mph with higher gusts. Fiona’s tropical storm winds extend 140 miles from Fiona’s center Outside.

Tropical storm warnings have been issued for Antigua, Barbuda, St Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, Anguilla, St Maarten, Saba and St Eustatius. Tropical Storm Watches were issued for Guadeloupe, St Barthelemy and St Martin. Additional Tropical Storm Watches are likely to be issued Thursday for the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Hispaniola.

On Wednesday night, Fiona became a tropical storm as satellite data showed Tropical Depression 7 had intensified and was maintaining maximum sustained winds in excess of 40 mph. It is not yet known whether the tropical storm would hit Florida or the mainland United States. Most of the projected storm paths show Fiona making a sharp turn northeast away from the Sunshine State.

Forecasters aren’t impressed with Fiona’s structure, calling it “sheared” and “asymmetric” and suggesting the ragged form won’t see much reinforcement anytime soon. Another hindrance is strong northwesterly wind shear, which is expected to slow the storm over the next few days but may not be enough to prevent strengthening at all.

“Fiona’s current intensity is a testament to her resilience in the face of the shear forces she has experienced over the past 24 hours,” said Robbie Berg, an NHC specialist.

Despite environmental factors, Fiona has been able to retain her strength.

However, conditions for Fiona are only getting worse as her core interacts with dry air and may be affected by land interference as she flies over parts of the Greater Antilles this weekend and early next week.

For now, the NHC says the storm could strengthen to winds of 60 miles per hour over the next 24 hours. On Monday, Fiona is expected to interact with the Hispaniola mountain range, which historically weakens tropical storm organization due to the mountainous terrain’s effects on wind structure. However, predictions actually show Fiona’s winds picking up to about 70 miles per hour around the same time it would pass over Hispaniola. Global models suggest Fiona could even become a hurricane, according to Colorado State University’s two-week tropics forecast.

“While Fiona is not expected to intensify much in the near term, most global models are intensifying it to hurricane strength by next week,” CSU said.

The Caribbean islands are expected to have heavy rain throughout the weekend, with Hispaniola receiving a maximum of 12 inches overall. Showers are expected to accumulate 4 to 6 inches of rain in the Leeward Islands Friday night.

“These rains can cause isolated flash floods and flooding in cities, as well as isolated mudslides in areas with higher terrain,” Berg said.

Currently, the mid-August to mid-October hurricane season sits in the middle of the most active period for tropical activity.

Ahead of the season, forecasters from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted that 2022 will be another above-average season in storm production, following two record-breaking seasons for named storms. NOAA doubled its forecast in early August. However, the season was sluggish compared to previous seasons.

Typically, the eighth named storm occurs on or before September 9 and the third hurricane on September 7, but the season has thus produced five named storms and two hurricanes. NOAA’s forecast calls for a total of 14 to 21 named storms by the end of the season, Nov. 30.

While things have been quiet, CSU forecasts the tropics could get a lot busier over the next two weeks, with a 50% chance of above-average activity taking place. CSU also gave a 40% chance of normal activity and a 10% chance of below-average activity.

Jpedersen@orlandosentinel.com

Updated: September 17, 2022 — 12:31 am

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