Tropical storm likely for Windward Islands,Venezuela; second system strengthens in Gulf

National Hurricane Center

A fast-moving storm will likely pummel the Windward Islands and eastern Venezuela with tropical storm force winds when it passes Monday night or early Tuesday, hurricane forecasters said Monday.

The system, moving at 25 mph and located about 525 miles east, southeast of Trinidad, will likely gain strength as it speeds across the Atlantic. Maximum sustained winds are 40 mph and extend about 60 miles from the center. A hurricane hunter plane was dispatched Monday morning to determine whether the system had reached tropical storm force winds, the National Hurricane Center said.

Residents need to be prepared before the storm hits tonight, when conditions will be dangerous, forecasters said. A tropical storm warning issued Monday morning was expanded to the coast of Venezuela and also includes Trinidad, Tobago and Grenada. Tropical storm watches were issued for Aruba and Bonaire.

As the system moves westward, forecasters say the storm will weaken as it encounters strong wind shear and likely fizzle out over the Central Caribbean. Moving over Venezuela could also cause it to lose strength, they said.

A second broad, messy system swirling in the Gulf of Mexico is also expected to become more organized while it moves across the southern and central parts of the gulf Tuesday. It’s expected to produce heavy showers over western Cuba and the Cayman Islands over the next two days.

Another hurricane hunter plane is scheduled to investigate the Gulf storm later today.

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