Tropical Storm Threatening to Form in Caribbean Near Antilles

Tropical storm warnings have been posted across the eastern Caribbean as a system gathers power and takes shape southeast of Dominica, the National Hurricane Center said.

With winds of 35 miles (56 kilometers) per hour, the system will likely become Tropical Storm Fred late Monday or early Tuesday local time, the center said in advisory at 5 p.m. New York time.

The storm is threatening to hit Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and potentially Cuba later this week, but its exact path remains unclear. The system will likely be south of Florida by this weekend if it survives the trek over the larger Caribbean islands.

“Regardless of the exact track, locally heavy rainfall and gusty winds are expected to spread across portions of the Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic over the next day or two,” Daniel Brown and Philippe Papin wrote in forecast analysis.

Five storms have already been named across the Atlantic this year, including three that hit the U.S. They come as extreme heat waves, floods and fires are becoming more common around the globe. The United Nations on Monday released a landmark report Monday concluding that there is “unequivocal” evidence that human activities have warmed the atmosphere.

A record 30 storms formed in 2020, about twice the annual average. They caused $42.3 billion in losses and damage and killed 86 people in the U.S. alone, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information. In addition, back-to-back storms caused more than $3 billion to Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua and left much of the region still struggling to recover.

Storms tracking into the Gulf of Mexico are closely watched because they can roil natural gas, oil, and orange juice prices as they tear through the region.

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