Tropical Storm Rafael is currently moving away from the Lesser Antilles, Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico this morning.
Rafael will continue to maintain tropical storm strength as it tracks towards the north-northwest. Although the storm is moving away from the islands, heavy rains and gusty winds will continue.
Sheets of rain and wind is expected to drench many of the region's islands, some to the point of flooding. Low lying areas, and those with poor drainage, such as urban areas, will be most at risk for flooding.
Inches of rainfall are likely due to the slow-moving nature of the storm. Continuous rainfall in the mountainous islands could create a problem with mudslides. As the rains soak the soils, whole hillsides can turn into a fast-moving sheet of mud.
The strongest winds of Rafael will likely occur in the US Virgin Islands, just to the right of the storm's center. Damaging gusts past 60 miles per hour are expected, certainly fast enough to cause damage.
On top of rain and wind concerns, rough surf will pound the southern shores of the region, with waves reaching as high a 8 feet over the open water. Such surf usually brings rip currents, which can easily pull unsuspecting swimmers out to sea.
Lastly, the continuous rainfall in the mountainous region could create a problem with mudslides. As the rains soak the soils, whole hillsides can turn into a fast-moving sheet of mud.
Rafael won't be finished after impacting the Antilles. The storm is currently set to impact Bermuda as early as Tuesday morning. How strong the system will be when it passes Bermuda is unclear. There may be an opening for Rafael to strengthen, becoming a hurricane late Monday or early Tuesday.
Even if Rafael is stronger when it passes Bermuda, it will be moving much quicker by that point, so the window for impacts will be generally smaller.
Rafael may then take aim at Newfoundland around Wednesday night.
Home page caption image provided by Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies
Hurricane Ignacio may enhance showers and stir rough surf for the Hawaiian Islands as it approaches next week.
After Erika brings heavy rain and locally gusty winds from Hispaniola eastern Cuba into Friday night, the system will move toward the Bahamas, the Keys and South Florida this weekend.
As many as seven tropical cyclones were churning throughout the world this past week, while smoke from wildfires across the Pacific Northwest led to poor air quality across the region.
Heat and humidity will return to Harrisburg this weekend and hang on into next week.
Heat will linger in Eastern Europe for much of the fall season; meanwhile, the British Isles and northwestern Europe can expect a stormy end to the season.
As Hurricane Katrina barreled towards the Gulf Coast, peaking at Category 5 strength while feasting on the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, meteorologists around the country prepared to deliver one of the most crucial and life-saving forecasts in history.
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Hail 6 inches deep.
Rochester, MN (1979)
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