Update, 10 a.m., Saturday: Hurricane Danny continues to weaken. Danny is now a Category 1 hurricane-- the first major tropical storm of the season-- with winds of 90 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Danny is moving W-NW toward the Caribbean should weaken in the more hostile enviroment, according to the NHC.
The tropical storm churning in the Atlantic Ocean continued to get stronger throughout Thursday, strengthening enough to become Hurricane Danny, the first hurricane of the 2015 season.
Located 1,030 miles east of the Windward Islands, the storm had 85 mph winds as it moved toward the west-northwest and was located in an area with little wind shear. The storm could be as strong as a Category 2 hurricane, with winds of at least 96 mph, by the time it reaches islands in the Caribbean Sea, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The storm is expected to reach the Caribbean by Monday morning and Puerto Rico by Tuesday. That’s about the five-day limit available for forecasters as of Thursday evening. Where it goes from there is up in the air, said Barry Keim, state climatologist.
Increased wind shear and even some dry air could weaken the storm back down to tropical storm strength by that time, he said.
“It’s a very, very small, compact storm,” Keim said.
Hurricane-force winds of 74 mph or greater only extend about 10 miles from the center, while tropical storm-force winds of 38 to 73 mph only extend about 60 miles from the center.
Because the storm is small, it can quickly strengthen or weaken, making the storm difficult to forecast, Keim said. The storm could end up anywhere from the U.S. East Coast, back out to sea or into the Gulf of Mexico.
“We have no idea of where this will go at this point,” he said.
Forecasters predict Hurricane Danny is about a week away from reaching the Gulf of Mexico, if that’s the route the storm takes. That gives people some time to start making emergency preparations such as checking safety kits for water, flashlights and batteries, according to the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
“Danny should serve as a reminder that we are now in the heart of hurricane season,” GOHSEP Director Kevin Davis said in a news release.
Information about getting prepared is available at www.getagameplan.org.
Follow Amy Wold on Twitter, @awold10.