A wave heading into the Central Atlantic is likely to become a depression or tropical storm later this week, National Hurricane Center forecasters said Tuesday.
The storm, which would be named Irma, has an 80 percent chance of forming in 48 hours and a 90 percent chance in five days after becoming better organized overnight, National Hurricane Center forecasters said. The system is expected to continue moving toward the northwest, taking it toward the Lesser Antilles.
In his Tuesday blog, Weather Underground meteorologist Jeff Masters said the wave had a moderate amount of thunderstorms and consistent spin. As it crosses the Atlantic, it will encounter above average ocean temperatures which can fuel a storm and low wind shear.
A strong ridge of high pressure is expected to steer the system, he said, with it arriving in the islands possibly Tuesday. However, another model showed the system missing the islands, which Masters noted highlights the uncertainty of track forecasts before a cyclone fully forms.
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In Texas, Tropical Storm Harvey continued crawling along the coast, with sustained winds of 50 mph and “catastrophic” rains, forecasters said. The storm should begin to continue heading northeast and make landfall again early Wednesday. Additional rainfall may total six to 12 inches to the north and east of Houston and into Louisiana, driving up totals expected to top 50 inches over the upper Texas coast.
Preliminary reports show Harvey has already broken the state’s rainfall record, with a gauge east of Highlands recording 51.88 inches. The previous records was set by Amelia in 1978 at 48 inches.
Off the east coast, a tropical wave that drenched Florida last week, had starting moving away from North Carolina. Forecasters warned high winds may still be felt in parts of North Caroline and Virginia, but planned on discontinuing advisories with risks diminishing and no chance of a cyclone forming.
Follow Jenny Staletovich on Twitter @jenstaletovich