Tropical Storm Harvey to threaten Central America after drenching the Windward Islands
Tropical Storm Harvey will continue to batter the Windward Islands with heavy rain and gusty winds into Friday night before beginning a journey across the Caribbean Sea toward Central America.
Harvey developed on Thursday afternoon east of the Windward Islands, becoming the eighth named tropical system of the 2017 Atlantic season.
While Harvey is only a tropical storm, it will still bring dangerous conditions to the Windward Islands as it passes by.
Enough rain can fall on the islands to cause flash flooding and mudslides. Wind gusts can be strong enough to cause minor property damage. Small craft should stay in port as Harvey moves through.
The system is expected to track across the warm Caribbean Sea over the weekend. While warm waters will favor strengthening, wind shear and other factors may keep the system from doing so quickly.
"Harvey's fast forward speed, the wind shear and dry air flow off of South America will only support slow strengthening through the weekend," according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.
Harvey is expected to continue on a westward path over the next couple of days which will keep it over the open waters of the Caribbean Sea. However, it will pass close enough to Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao that an uptick in drenching showers and gusty winds will be possible.
Boaters will want to keep track of Harvey through the weekend as rough seas are likely to be stirred up across the Caribbean.
The most likely path of this system is westward toward Central America through Monday night. The system could make landfall in Honduras or northeastern Nicaragua or it could slide by to the north and head toward Belize.
"If Harvey can remain well off the coast of these two countries, then it should have more favorable environmental conditions to intensify which could allow it to become a hurricane," Kottlowski said.
The full extent of impacts across Central America will depend on the strength of this system. However, heavy rain and gusty winds will be likely for parts of Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and Belize early next week and eventually parts of Mexico Wednesday.
Areas that see heavy rain may be faced with dangerous flooding and mudslides across the higher terrain. If Harvey does become a weak hurricane, strong winds could down trees and bring sporadic power outages and cause minor structural damage.
Harvey will also threaten storm surge and coastal flooding as it approaches and makes landfall.
People in these areas and others who may have interests in the Caribbean will want to keep track of Harvey into early next week.
Aside from Harvey, there are several other tropical features in the Atlantic Basin worth watching over the next several days.
Additional batches of thunderstorms will continue to roll westward from Africa in the coming weeks.
The next six to eight weeks represent the heart of the hurricane season.
As the peak of the hurricane season approaches, on Sept. 10, the likelihood of tropical storm and hurricane formation will increase due to warm water, shrinking dry air and diminishing winds.