Tropical Storm Jerry is about to become a hurricane

Tropical Storm Jerry is soaring through the Atlantic, but forecasters said the storm is still headed for a northern bend that takes it far from any land — although it’s too soon to know for sure.

Jerry is expected to briefly strengthen to a hurricane later Thursday as it crosses warmer waters and encounters favorable winds before weakening back to a tropical storm by Sunday.

As of 8 a.m. Thursday, forecasters said the storm is only a short jump away from becoming a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 70 mph and stronger gusts. Once its maximum sustained winds reach at least 74 mph, it’ll be considered a Cat 1.

The storm was about 525 miles east of the Leeward Islands and is traveling west-northwest at 16 mph.

The current track puts the storm closest to land on Friday. Barbuda, Anguilla, St. Maarten, St. Martin, St. Barthelemy, Saba and St. Eustatius were under tropical storm watches as of Wednesday night.

Once it passes the Leeward Islands, the National Hurricane Center said Jerry could make a sharp curve to the northeast, keeping its cone of concern far from Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and the Bahamas and well east of Florida’s coast.

That potential curve is thanks to weaknesses in a low-pressure ridge left behind by Hurricane Humberto, which hit Bermuda as a Category 3 storm Wednesday. The island could see up to three feet of storm surge and already reporting 3 inches of rain in some places.

Two more tropical disturbances appeared in the Atlantic this week after Jerry — one just behind the tropical storm and another to the south of Hispaniola. Neither have high chances of forming in the next five days, forecasters said.

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Real Time/Breaking News Reporter. There’s never a dull moment in Florida — and I cover it. Graduated with honors from Florida International University. Find me on Twitter @TweetMichelleM
Alex Harris covers climate change for the Miami Herald, including how South Florida communities are adapting to the warming world. She attended the University of Florida.