Rain from an area of disturbed weather near Puerto Rico could foil Mother's Day travel plans and bring risk to lives and property.
An area of disturbed weather, currently in the vicinity of Puerto Rico, bears watching for modest tropical development into next week.
Drenching downpours and locally gusty thunderstorms have been affecting Puerto Rico and nearby islands in the northeastern Caribbean since midweek.
On Thursday, a mudslide displaced 20 families in the Puerto Rico town of Vega Alta.
From Wednesday through Friday, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, has received more than 5 inches of rain with over 4 inches at San Juan, Puerto Rico, and nearly 3 inches at St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.
Brief downpours are generally welcomed this time of the year and collected on some of the smaller islands, ahead of the tropical season. However, the rainfall over the past couple of days has been heavy enough to cause flash flooding in parts of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
According to AccuWeather Meteorologist Rob Miller, "There is a slight chance that as this system begins to move slowly to the northwest early next week, it could develop some tropical characteristics."
Persistent heavy rainfall will continue to pester many of the northern islands of the Caribbean through the weekend.
The main impact from the system, whether or not it begins to develop, will be for ongoing drenching downpours with the risk of flash flooding and mudslides from Puerto Rico to the Leeward Islands.
"Additional downpours will affect Puerto Rico and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands this weekend," Miller said. "The rainfall associated with the disturbed area will gradually creep northwestward during the part of next week and will affect Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas."
Residents and those headed to these locations for Mother's Day weekend should be prepared for possible flight delays and disruptions to daily activities through next week.
"The disturbance is essentially a weak storm in the upper atmosphere, which has formed near an old frontal zone," Miller said. "So far the combination of the two, and not a tropical system, has been responsible for the rainfall."
Should the system begin to develop tropical characteristics, thunderstorms may become more robust near the center, while seas and surf could become agitated from the northern shores of the northern Caribbean islands to the southern Atlantic coast.
"While the chance of development is low, it is most likely to take place around the Bahamas next week," Miller said.
A cold front is forecast to push toward the Atlantic coast of the U.S. later next week after high pressure moves away.
Interaction with the front could tug on the system. If the system were to drift northward along the Atlantic coast or turn out to the northeast, disruptive winds and progressively cooler water would likely cause the system to be shredded or struggle greatly.
However, it will have to be watched as similar systems in the past have been known to enhance rainfall greatly along approaching frontal zones.
For now it appears the bulk of the rainfall directly associated with the system will stay east of Florida. Only if the front were to stall would the disturbance have a chance at being drawn westward over the state.
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