Tropical Storm Claudette closing in on Florida Panhandle

| August 16, 2009

Chris Dolce, Lead Meteorologist, The Weather Channel
Aug. 16, 2009 12:47 pm ET

ATLANTIC

An area of low pressure off of Florida's West Coast that became Tropical Depression Four early this morning has been upgraded to Tropical Storm Claudette.

As of 11 a.m. Sunday morning, Claudette was located about 75 miles south-southeast of Apalachicola, Florida. The system is forecast to make landfall late this afternoon or this evening.

Tropical storm warnings extend from the Alabama/Florida border eastward to the Suwannee River, Florida. This means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere in this area within the next 24 hours.

Gusty winds and heavy rain, which may trigger some flash flooding, are the main threats. Three to five inches are possible in the Florida Panhandle and adjacent portions of southern Alabama. Locally heavier amounts are possible especially along and just east of where the center of circulation tracks.

Elsewhere in the Atlantic, there are two tropical storms: Ana and Bill.

Tropical Storm Ana (40 mile per hour winds) and is located 430 miles east-southeast of the Leeward Islands.

Ana is struggling in a dry environment at this time as it races westward. The forecast is for Ana to slightly strengthen as it heads toward the Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico and then toward Hispaniola.

In the short term, expect increased rain and some gusty winds over portions of the northeast Caribbean Islands through Monday.

Tropical storm watches are in effect for Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the rest of the northern Leeward Islands. This means tropical storm conditions are possible in the watch area within 36 hours.

The intensity farther out in time will be dictated by the interaction with the mountainous terrain of Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and Cuba. Regardless, these areas need to monitor the progress of Tropical Storms Ana closely.

Tropical Storm Bill became the 2nd named storm of the Atlantic Hurricane Season on Saturday, forming in the Eastern Atlantic east of Tropical Storm Ana. Bill is currently located about 1555 miles east of the Lesser Antilles, and has top sustained winds near 60 miles per hour.

Tropical Storm Bill is forecast to move west-northwest through the open tropical Atlantic over the next few days while steadily gaining strength. If fact, Bill may be a major hurricane (category three or higher) by midweek.

The current forecast track calls for Bill to miss the Leeward Islands and Puerto Rico to the north. However, these areas should still monitor this systems progress over the next several days due to the uncertainty in forecasts farther out in time.

EASTERN PACIFIC

Guillermo rapidly strengthened overnight Friday night into early Saturday and became a Category 3 hurricane with winds of 125 mph near the center of circulation. Guillermo has now weakened some back to a Category 2 with 100 mph top winds.

It is located 1065 miles east of Hilo, Hawaii, while continuing to move west-northwest.

Environmental conditions are forecast to become less favorable over the next couple of days, and therefore it should soon begin a weakening trend.

Guillermo is not expected to threaten any land.
 

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