A storm not even yet named is triggering the issuance of Hurricane Watches in the Caribbean, and forecasters at the National Hurricane Center warn the United States coast may be next for a landfalling hurricane. A disturbance moving through the Caribbean today is forecast to quickly become organized and stronger, becoming not only the next named tropical storm of the busy Atlantic hurricane season, but the next hurricane landfall threat for the United States coastline. Now known officially as “Potential Tropical Cyclone #26”, the storm is expected to become tropical storm, and eventually, Hurricane Delta.
For now, the disturbance is located at 16.7N, 76.6W, which puts it about 90 miles south of Kingston, Jamaica and about 350 miles east-southeast of Grand Cayman. Maximum sustained winds are only at 35 mph now. The system is moving to the west-northwest at 10 mph with a minimum central pressure of 1007 mb or 29.74 inches.
With the storm in an area ripe for more organization and intensification, the government of the Cayman Islands has issued a Tropical Storm Warning for the Cayman Islands, including Little Cayman and Cayman Brac. The government of Cuba has also issued a Hurricane Watch for the Isle of Youth and the Cuba provinces of Pinar del Rio and Artemisa. A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for the Cuban province of La Habana. 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. A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area within 36 hours. A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.
On the latest forecast track from the National Hurricane Center, the center of the disturbance is expected to pass near or just southwest of Jamaica tonight and early Monday, move near or over the Cayman Islands Monday night, and approach the Isle of Youth and western Cuba Tuesday afternoon or evening. The system is forecast to move into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico Tuesday night or early Wednesday. Strengthening is expected during the next 2 to 3 days and the system is forecast to be a tropical storm when it nears the Cayman Islands, and a hurricane when it moves near or over western Cuba. As the system enters the central Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday, additional strengthening is expected and this storm, with the name of Delta, could strike portions of the Gulf Coast still dealing with prior impacts from this season.
This storm will produce dangerous storm surge, flooding rains, and damaging winds with time. A storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 3 to 5 feet above normal tide levels along the immediate coast of the Isle of Youth and along the south coast of western Cuba near and to right of where the center makes landfall. Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and dangerous waves. Through midweek, this system has the potential to produce 3-5″ of rain with isolated maximum totals of 8″ across Jamaica, southern Haiti, and western Cuba. This rainfall could lead to life-threatening flash floods and mudslides. Over the Cayman Islands, 2-4″ of rainfall will be possible with this system. Tropical storm wind conditions are expected in the Cayman Islands beginning late Monday. Hurricane conditions are possible within the Hurricane Watch area by Tuesday afternoon, with tropical storm conditions possible by early Tuesday. Tropical Storm conditions are possible in the Tropical Storm Watch area in Cuba by early Tuesday.