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15 September 2018, 03:05 | Edward Lowe
2 p.m. update: Florence within 110 miles of Wilmington
Tropical Storm Isaac, which passed between the Caribbean island nations of Dominica and Martinique late Wednesday and early Thursday, is now moving nearly due west across the eastern Caribbean Sea.
Tropical Storm Isaac made its closest approach to St. Croix Thursday night, passing nearly 200 miles to the south and having no apparent impact on the territory as it made its leisurely way across the Caribbean. The upper level winds are light, meaning the storm is likely to maintain intensity, or even strengthen a bit before making landfall. Some fluctuation in wind speeds are expected, and weakening forecast Thursday, but it's still expected to be a fierce storm triggering risky flooding.
National Weather Service officials in Honolulu urged residents to remain careful, noting that the difference between a Category 1 hurricane and a tropical storm is just 5 miles per hour wind speed.
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The storm surge, major flooding, and damaging winds extending well beyond the center of the storm could cause major damage to coastal communities.
The Hurricane Centre says Isaac is almost completely devoid of deep convection at the moment and is not trackable in radar data from Guadeloupe and Martinique.
"On the forecast track, Isaac is anticipated to move near or over the central Lesser Antilles on Thursday and move into the eastern Caribbean Sea later on Thursday night", the NHC said. Tropical storms generate winds between 39 and 73 miles per hour, just below hurricane force. Gradual weakening is forecast during the next few days.
Bridges, airports and ferry services in the affected areas face closure if winds grow too violent, while roads and rail routes might also be cut off.
With the ground already saturated from recent rain, another drenching from Florence combined with winds could easily lead to trees being uprooted and widespread power outages, he said. Flash flooding is going to be a big issue soon - certainly catastrophic. A trough of low pressure over the western Gulf of Mexico is also producing disorganised showers and thunderstorms this morning, which the NHC had a 50% chance of becoming a storm.
The storm's center was about 170 miles southeast of Wilmington at 8 a.m. Thursday, according to a National Hurricane Center briefing.
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