Tropical Storm Bret is expected to roar across eastern Caribbean islands on Thursday, poised to pelt the region with stiff winds and heavy rain that could cause flooding and dangerous surf.
Bret, packing near-hurricane-force sustained winds of 70 mph, was centered in the Atlantic about 200 miles east of Barbados as of 5 a.m. ET Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said.
TRACK TROPICAL STORM BRET
At roughly that same strength, Bret is expected to move Thursday night across parts of the eastern Caribbean’s Lesser Antilles island group, which includes Dominica, St. Lucia and Barbados, and the French overseas region of Martinique, the hurricane center said.
Bret’s center could cross or come quite close to St. Lucia or Martinique on Thursday night, according to a forecast track the hurricane center released Thursday morning.
Tropical storm conditions – winds of at least 39 mph – are expected to begin in parts of the area by Thursday afternoon, the center said.
A hurricane watch has been issued in St. Lucia and tropical storm warnings are in effect for Martinique and Dominica. Tropical storm watches are also in effect for Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Through Saturday, the storm could bring 3 to 6 inches of rain to parts of the eastern Caribbean stretching from Guadeloupe to Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the hurricane center said. Some areas could see as many as 10 inches of rain.
Downpours could trigger flash flooding, particularly in high-terrain areas and potentially in urban areas.
Bret also is likely to whip up dangerous coastal swells that may create life-threatening surf and rip currents in parts of the islands Thursday.
After passing the Lesser Antilles, Bret is expected to weaken and press west into the eastern and central Caribbean Sea, the hurricane center said.
“Weakening is anticipated to begin Thursday night or Friday after Bret passes the Lesser Antilles, and the system is likely to dissipate over the central Caribbean Sea by Saturday,” the center said Wednesday night.
Bret is the second named storm of the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season, which began on June 1 and will end November 30.
This year’s season is expected to bring a near-average number of storms: 12 to 17 named storms, five to nine hurricanes and up to four major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has said.
An average Atlantic hurricane season has 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes, according to the administration.
Tropical storm Arlene became the first named storm of the season when it formed in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this month.