Chantal Threatens Floods, Rough Seas in Caribbean

By , Senior Meteorologist
July 10, 2013; 10:15 AM ET
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Chantal has weakened to a tropical rainstorm. However, as the system tracks west-northwestward across the Caribbean, the greatest threat will be from flash flooding with the greatest impact over Hispaniola and part of Cuba Thursday.

The Windwards experienced tropical storm conditions Tuesday, with similar conditions over parts of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.

Haiti and the Dominican Republic was impacted by Tropical Rainstorm Chantal Wednesday into Wednesday night. Eastern and central Cuba is forecast to bear the brunt of the downpours on Thursday, as drenching showers and thunderstorms also reach Jamaica.

While the fast movement of Chantal will limit the amount of rain on the smaller islands, large mountains on the Greater Antilles will squeeze out excessive moisture, regardless of the forward speed of the storm and its classification.

In most situations similar to Chantal, the worst of the rain and heaviest squalls tend to occur near, east and northeast of the track. The conditions tend to "follow" the storm as it moves along.

Locally heavy rain may linger in the storm's wake as a result. In most cases, the risk of heavy rain will span a period of 24 hours or less.

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Interests from Hispaniola to central Cuba should be prepared for the possibility of mudslides and flash and urban flooding, especially over mountainous areas.

Chantal will also generate rough seas and surf along its path. Small craft should remain in port as the storm approaches. Waves can be dangerous for bathers within of couple of days of the storm's passage.

Late in the week, Chantal is forecast to turn on a more north-northwest path, which will take it toward the Bahamas.

The area from the Bahamas to the Florida Peninsula was first hit by a non-tropical system moving in from the east through Wednesday. This storm in the upper atmosphere packed its own torrential downpours, locally heavy squalls and gusty thunderstorms.

Rainfall from either one or both systems brings a risk of urban and low-lying area flooding.

Eventually, moisture from either or both systems will be absorbed over the mainland United States, adding to the mosaic of daily showers and thunderstorms, as well as the risk of flash and urban flooding problems.

While rainfall during the summer season is essential for water supplies in the tropics, parts of the Caribbean have already received twice their normal rainfall since June 1. Much of the landscape is primed for excessive runoff and flooding.

At San Juan, Puerto Rico, 13 inches of rain has fallen since June 1, compared to a normal rainfall of around 6.50 inches for the period. At St. Croix, Virgin Islands, nearly 8 inches of rain has fallen during the same period, compared to an average of about 3 inches.


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