With the likely possibility of Tropical Storm Isaac reaching hurricane strength, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) has issued hurricane watches and warnings for portions of the Caribbean region.
The hurricane warnings cover portions of the Dominican Republic from Isla Saona westward to the Haiti-Dominican Republic southern border.
The hurricane watches are in effect for Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and Haiti.
A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area within 36 hours. A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within 48 hours.
In addition to the hurricane watches and warnings, tropical storm watches and warnings are in effect.
Tropical storm warnings cover Martinique, Dominica, Guadeloupe and the surrounding islands, St. Martin, St. Kitts, Nevis, Antigua, Barbuda, Montserrat, Anguilla, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
A tropical storm watch is in effect for the north coast of Dominican Republic from the Haiti-Dominican Republic northern border eastward to north of Isla Saona.
The NHC says environmental conditions over Isaac are expected to become increasingly favorable for strengthening as it moves into the Caribbean with very little shear to obstruct development.
"The shear is forecast to gradually decrease to values below 5 kt by 24 hours, which should allow Isaac to strengthen to a hurricane by 48 hours," NHC said.
As of late Wednesday afternoon, Isaac was located 25 miles south southeast of Guadeloupe with 45 mph winds and was moving quickly to the west at 22 mph.
On the current track, NHC says Isaac will move through the Leeward Islands Wednesday evening and move toward the northeastern Caribbean, while strengthening into a category one hurricane by late Thursday night.
This system is eventually forecast to impact the Southeast U.S., particularly Florida by early next week.
The NHC current forecast track takes Issac over the Florida Keys as a strong tropical storm and or minimum hurricane on Monday as it moves up the southwest side of the peninsula but much uncertainty remains.
All coastal residents should stay updated on the latest weather information concerning the progress of Isaac.