The third named storm of the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season took shape Sunday night and is threatening to make landfall in a few days along Florida’s coastline. The storm which is named Chantal is traveling quickly at around 28 miles per hour and is packing winds of about 40 miles per hour. There is a hurricane watch in effect for portions of the Dominican Republic and a tropical storm warning in effect for Puerto Rico, the coastline of the Dominican Republic and the entire coastlines of Haiti, The Turks and Caicos as well as for the southeastern Bahamas.
The National Hurricane Center out of Miami stated late Tuesday that Chantal could impact the state of Florida and the southeastern portion of the United States. The center warned that while the storm was a bit disorganized Tuesday that it is still a very significant threat to the Caribbean over the next few days and must be monitored closely for a potential impact on the US late this weekend into early next week.
By afternoon Wednesday, the tropical storm will have strengthened somewhat as it passes over Hispaniola which is usually rough on tropical storms with its high mountainous peaks that reach 10,000 feet in some areas. If Chantal makes it across Hispaniola without breaking apart too much, it could grow stronger by mid-day Thursday to pose a very real threat to Florida and possibly the Gulf Coast and eastern part of the United States.
Tuesday afternoon, the NHC in Miami said in an advisory that the tropical storm was 330 miles southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico and was moving west-northwest at around 30 miles per hour. It also stated that the storm was probably going to move away from the Lesser Antilles Tuesday evening and continue over the eastern Caribbean Sea. Chantal is being forecast to be over the Dominican Republic on Wednesday where it will be close to hurricane strength.
Whether or not Chantal will strike Florida depends on if it’s able to survive the trip over the high mountain peaks on Hispaniola and upon the development of a high pressure system north of the storm. If the mountains do calm the storm down and weaken it, it could rob it of the moisture it needs to maintain it’s power. While many tropical storms do rip apart over these mountains, many do come pass overjust fine and continue building strength as they take aim on Cuba and the southern United States.