Tropical Storm Philippe strengthened slightly Wednesday morning as its trajectory shifted a bit south, bringing its potential path closer to the Caribbean. Following to the east, a second system is highly likely to strengthen into a tropical depression, or eventually Tropical Storm Rina.
The National Hurricane Center expects some slight fluctuations in intensity as Philippe moves west, but anticipates an overall slow weakening trend later this weekend as the storm continues to encounter storm-shredding wind shear and dry air.
Tropical-storm-force winds from Philippe could begin arriving in northern Caribbean Islands such as Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands as early as Thursday night, according to the National Hurricane Center.
From Friday to Monday, Philippe could produce 2 to 4 inches of rain across the islands of the northeastern Caribbean, the Virgin Islands and eastern Puerto Rico. Western Puerto Rico should see 1 to 2 inches of rain. Areas hardest hit by rainfall could see isolated urban and small stream flooding.
As of 11 a.m. Eastern time Wednesday, Philippe was located about 620 miles east of the far eastern Caribbean, moving west at 9 mph. Its maximum sustained winds bumped up slightly to 50 mph.
Meanwhile, the system that could soon become a tropical depression or tropical storm was located about halfway between the Cabo Verde Islands off Africa and the far eastern Caribbean, and had a 90 percent chance of developing within two to seven days, the hurricane center said as of 8 a.m. Wednesday.
Its showers and thunderstorms were becoming better organized and it is expected to move west-northwest across the central tropical Atlantic.
So far this season in the Atlantic, there have been 16 named storms, six of which were hurricanes. Of those, three were major hurricanes, meaning Category 3 or above.
Those were Hurricane Lee, a rare Category 5; Hurricane Franklin, a Category 4; and Hurricane Idalia, which made landfall on Florida’s Big Bend region at Category 3 strength on Aug. 30.
Hurricane season officially runs through Nov. 30.