Tropical Storm Grace leaves Haiti with flooding rains, and it could be a hurricane soon

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UPDATE 8/18/2021: Tropical Storm Grace and Tropical Storm Henri are forecast to turn into hurricanes soon.

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Tropical Storm Grace could be near hurricane level strength by the time it approaches the Yucatán coast of Mexico this week, forecasters said.

The National Hurricane Center is also eyeing Tropical Storm Henri, which is forecast to loop around Bermuda in the next few days.

Here’s what to know:

Hispaniola still feeling Tropical Storm Grace’s flooding rains

Tropical Storm Grace’s location in the 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021 advisory.
Tropical Storm Grace’s location in the 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021 advisory.

Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 80 miles from the center, in the hurricane center’s 8 p.m. advisory. Grace has sustained winds of 40 mph and a gust to 52 mph.

Jamaica was still under the threat of heavy rainfall and flash flooding.

The storm is continuing to re-organize, and has held maximum sustained winds of 50 mph with higher gusts, according to the hurricane center.

Grace was about 50 miles west of Montego Bay, Jamaica, and about 185 miles east-southeast of Grand Cayman in the 8 p.m. advisory.

“Regardless of Grace’s exact intensity right now, the immediate threat is still torrential rainfall across western Hispaniola today and over Jamaica this afternoon and tonight, which will likely cause severe flooding in some locations,” Richard Pasch, senior hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center, wrote earlier Tuesday.

The National Hurricane Center issued hurricane warnings for the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico and a hurricane watch for the Cayman Islands in its 5 p.m. advisory on Tuesday for Tropical Storm Grace.

Tropical storm conditions had been lashing Jamaica and started to spread over eastern Cuba as flooding rains swept over parts of Haiti, according to the National Hurricane Center. But the tropical storm watch for Haiti was discontinued in the 2 p.m. advisory.

Haiti, which is still reeling from Saturday’s devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake that has killed more than 1,000 people, was facing a possible 1 to 2 inches of rain with isolated areas seeing up to 15 inches of rain across its southern terrain on Tuesday, according to the hurricane center. This heavy rainfall could lead to flash and urban flooding and possible mudslides.

On the forecast track, Grace was expected to move near the northern coast of Jamaica and then be by the Cayman Islands late Tuesday night or early Wednesday.

Grace is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane on Wednesday, with some additional strengthening possible before its center reaches the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico late Wednesday or early Thursday, Pasch wrote in the advisory.

Earliest arrival time of winds from Tropical Storm Grace in the 11 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021 advisory.
Earliest arrival time of winds from Tropical Storm Grace in the 11 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021 advisory.

Grace’s southern track will keep it far away from Florida.

If Grace does become a hurricane when it arrives at the Yucatán Peninsula, that will mean it will have achieved winds of at least 74 mph to qualify as a Category 1 hurricane.

The government of Mexico’s 5 p.m. hurricane warning for the eastern Yucatán Peninsula is from Cancún to Punta Herrero and includes Cozumel.

There is also a new tropical storm warning from north of Cancún to Cabo Catoche and from south of Punta Herrero to Puerto Costa Maya.

Tropical storm warnings are in effect for:

Jamaica

Southern coast of the Cuban provinces of Santiago de Cuba, Granma, Las Tunas and Camagüey

Cayman Islands

Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, from north of Cancún to Cabo Catoche

Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, from south of Punta Herrero to Puerto Costa Maya

A tropical storm watch is in effect for:

Southern coast of the Cuban provinces of Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spiritus, Cienfuegos, Matanzas and Pinar del Río, as well as Isla de la Juventud.

Along with Jamaica and Cuba, the Cayman Islands should also feel some of Grace’s tropical storm conditions Tuesday.

Forecasters say portions of southern Cuba, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and portions of the Yucatán Peninsula could see between 3 to 6 inches of rain with isolated areas seeing up to 9 inches of rain through Thursday. This heavy rainfall could lead to flash and urban flooding.

Tropical Storm Henri to loop around Bermuda

Tropical Storm Henri at 8 p.m. advisory on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021.
Tropical Storm Henri at 8 p.m. advisory on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021.

Tropical Storm Henri remained at 65 mph with higher gusts in the 8 p.m. advisory on Tuesday following a day of strengthening. Henri crawled west-southwest at 5 mph in the open Atlantic waters. Henri was about about 145 miles south-southeast of Bermuda, which is under a tropical storm watch.

Henri is forecast to remain over warm waters in a favorable environment that could cause it to see some strengthening. However, conditions are forecast to become less favorable in the next few days, which should prevent the storm from further strengthening and could possibly weaken the system.

On the forecast track, the center of Henri was expected to pass well to the south of Bermuda later Tuesday night. Tropical storm-force winds extend about 70 miles from the center.

Forecasters expect this gradual clockwise turn will tug it toward the open Atlantic waters and away from the southeastern United States.

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