Forecasters in the United States are warning that Tropical Storm Chantal may pay a visit to the state of Florida. While the storm is still days away, residents of the Sunshine State are being told to be prepared just in case it does make landfall in their state. As of Wednesday morning, Chantal was roaring toward the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Authorities there are warning people that there that the tropical storm could very well trigger landslides and heavy flooding. Chantal was over 200 miles southeast of Puerto Rico Tuesday evening and has sustained winds of about 64 miles per hour.
The National Hurricane Center out of Miami said that a hurricane watch is in effect for the southern coastline of the Dominican Republic and that the storm will be over the country by mid-afternoon Wednesday. It is then going to travel over the Bahamas on Thursday. Chantal is taking what is being called a “rare” early season path that’s taking it through the Lesser Antilles Islands and possibly headed for the US; a path that is more commonly taken during the height of the hurricane season than it is in early July. Additionally, the storm is early to begin with and it’s already the third named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season which usually comes around mid-August.
If the tropical storm holds together, forecasters say that it could cross the state of Florida toward the tail end of the upcoming weekend and then move on through the Gulf of Mexico. However, it’s likely that the track of the storm will shift before then which could push it out to sea or toward the East Coast. There is a high pressure system over the eastern portion of the US which could block the storm from steering toward the coastline.
The tropical system has forced two Carnival cruise ships to change their paths. One of the ships skipped visiting St. Thomas due to Chantal’s proximity to the island and the other skipped a day at sea so that its passengers could visit Nassau before the storm impacted that popular tourist destination which is capital city of the Bahamas.
Whether or not Chantal will be a real threat to Florida and the East Coast is yet to be seen. June 1st was the official start to the Atlantic hurricane season that runs through to the end of November. Now is the time for people living in the hurricane-prone areas to be sure that they’re well-prepared for a direct hit by a major hurricane. It’s important for homeowners to make sure they have adequate flood insurance coverage and for families to make evacuation plans.