Tropical Storm Bret forms in the Atlantic, with possible hurricane threat to Caribbean islands

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Tropical Storm Bret formed Monday in the central Atlantic Ocean, with forecasters saying it could pose a hurricane threat to the eastern Caribbean by Thursday and the Dominican Republic and Haiti by the weekend.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Bret had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (65 km/h) at 5 p.m. Monday as it moved west across the Atlantic at 21 mph (33 km /h). Forecasters expect it to strengthen over the next two days, reaching Category 1 hurricane strength of 74 mph (120 km/h) by Wednesday evening as it approaches the Lesser Antilles. Due to wind shear, the storm is not expected to become a Category 2 storm.

Bret is expected to cross the Lesser Antilles as a hurricane on Thursday and Friday and trigger flooding, heavy rain and dangerous storm surges and waves, the center said. It is then expected to slowly weaken while remaining in the eastern Caribbean region, although the center warned its forecast “remains a low confidence prediction”.

“Everyone in the Lesser Antilles, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands should closely monitor forecast updates for this system and have their hurricane plan in place,” the center said.

The National Hurricane Center said it’s possible Bret could turn north or continue west into the Caribbean and threaten the Dominican Republic, Haiti and other islands.

“There is still more uncertainty than usual,” the center said of the storm’s forecast track.

Nearly a century has passed since a storm last developed into a hurricane in the tropical Atlantic in June, according to Philip Klotzbach, a meteorologist at Colorado State University. The last such storm on record was Trinidad in 1933, he tweeted.

Tropical Storm Arlene, the first storm of the 2023 season, formed earlier this month. He died after two days, never threatening to land.

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