Tropical storm Bret could reach the Lesser Antilles islands in the Caribbean Sea by late Thursday as a rare June hurricane.
In an average year, the first hurricane typically doesn’t form until early to mid-August, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The storm currently carries winds of 40 mph and is moving quickly to the west at 17 mph. It is expected to reach hurricane strength Wednesday.
“Bret is forecast to initially strengthen and then move across the Lesser Antilles near hurricane intensity on Thursday and Friday, bringing a risk of flooding from heavy rainfall, strong winds, and dangerous storm surge and waves,” the hurricane center warned.
While it’s still too early to know exactly where the greatest impacts will be felt because there is uncertainty in the forecast track, the hurricane center is urging residents of the Lesser Antilles, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to monitor forecast updates and have their hurricane plan in place.
“Low (wind) shear and abnormally warm ocean waters” are providing Bret with the conditions conducive to strengthening over the next few days, the center said.
Atlantic water temperatures are off the charts right now, setting records for the month of May. The temperatures are more typical of what we would see much later in the summer, which is one ingredient helping to fuel Bret.
Once Bret crosses over the Lesser Antilles, the storm is forecast to weaken again.
“Drier mid-level air should begin to get entrained into the system,” the hurricane center said. “This will likely cause a weakening trend to commence after Bret moves into the Caribbean.”
It’s much too early to know what impact, if any, this will have on the US mainland.
The hurricane center first identified the storm as a tropical depression a little over 1,400 miles east of the Windward Islands in a Monday morning update.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is forecasting a near average season when it comes to the number of storms. It’s forecasting 12 to 17 named storms, five to nine hurricanes and up to four major hurricanes – which is a Category 3 storm or higher.