PHILIPSBURG–The Tropical Storm force winds of Chantal stretch farther from the cyclone’s centre than first assumed, up to 90 miles, mainly to the North, and warnings for the Northeastern Caribbean were imminent last night.
At 11:00pm, the centre of Chantal was located near latitude 12.4 North and longitude 56.1 West or about 235 miles East-Southeast of Barbados. It was moving West-Northwest (285 degrees) at some 26 miles per hour and this general motion was expected to continue over the next few days.
St. Maarten’s Office of Disaster Management (ODM) was monitoring closely the progress of Chantal, the third storm for the Atlantic Hurricane Season. Based on earlier advisories, it had stated that the system did not pose a threat to St. Maarten.
However, ODM in a subsequent bulletin confirmed that based on information from the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) additional watches and/or warnings might be needed.
A Hurricane Hunter plane that investigated the disturbance yesterday evening found it to be bigger and even a bit stronger than originally thought. Maximum sustained winds were near 50 miles per hour, with higher gusts.
The storm was forecast to pass through the Eastern Caribbean island chain by this Tuesday morning in the vicinity of Dominica, Martinique and St. Lucia. Warnings had been posted for these three islands, as well as Barbados, Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico, and the southern coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engaño to the border with Haiti, while watches were up for the US Virgin Islands, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Vieques, Culebra, the northern coast of the Dominican Republic from North of Cabo Engano to Cabo Frances Viejo, and Haiti.
Some strengthening was forecast and a storm surge of one to three feet above normal levels is possible on the islands, accompanied by dangerous waves. Rainfall accumulations of two to four inches, with a possible maximum of six inches, were foreseen as well.
The local Met Office forecast cloudy periods and squally weather today as the storm passes well to the South. Seas will be moderate, ranging from six to eight feet at first and later, rough, ranging from eight to 11 feet.
A small craft advisory will be issued and sea users, as well as operators of costal facilities, are urged to make contingency plans.
Based on the 8:00pm advisory Monday, the National Hurricane Center in Miami indicated that additional watches and warnings could be required for a portion of the Northern Leeward Islands later that night.
ODM will continue to monitor the progress of this fast moving storm and will provide an additional update early Tuesday morning. The population is advised to monitor government and weather reports for any further updates.