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Weakening Gonzalo still could become hurricane

Tropical Storm Gonzalo is expected to bring tropical storm conditions to the southern Windward Islands on Saturday as it inched closer to the chain of islands on Friday.

The Miami-based National Hurricane Centre (NHC) in its 5.00 am (local time) bulletin on Friday said that the storm was now 645 miles east of the southern Windward Islands-Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia and St,. Vincent and the Grenadines and had maximum sustained winds of 60 miles per hour (mph).

A tropical storm warning is in effect for Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and St. Lucia, the governments of Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines have also issued a hurricane watch for their respective islands.

A tropical storm watch is in effect for Tobago and Grenada and its dependencies.

The NHC said that a Tropical Storm warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area within 36 hours, while a hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area.

“A watch is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous,” it added.

The NHC said that the centre of Tropical Storm Gonzalo was located near latitude 10.0 North, longitude 51.8 West and is moving toward the west near 14 mph.

“A westward to west-north-westward motion with an increase in forward speed is expected through the weekend.  On the forecast track, the centre of Gonzalo will approach the southern Windward Islands tonight (July 24) and move across these islands Saturday (July 25) and into the eastern Caribbean Sea on Sunday,” the NHC said.

It said maximum sustained winds are near 60 mph with higher gusts and that some strengthening is forecast during the next day or two, and “there is still a chance that Gonzalo could become a hurricane before reaching the Windward Islands.

“Weakening is expected after Gonzalo moves into the Caribbean Sea, and the cyclone is expected to dissipate by the middle of next week.

“Gonzalo is a small tropical cyclone.  Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles (35 km) from the centre,” the NHC said, adding that Gonzalo is expected to produce total rain accumulations of two to five 5 inches, with isolated maximum amounts of seven inches in Barbados and the Windward Islands tonight through Sunday night.

Gonzalo is also expected to produce total rain accumulations of one to two inches in Trinidad and Tobago.  Rainfall in Barbados and the Windward Islands could lead to life-threatening flash floods, the NHC warned.


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