Tropical Storm Humberto crawls past Bahamas as government discontinues storm warnings

Tropical Storm Humberto began to crawl past the Bahamas Saturday evening, after spending a few hours stalled just off the country’s northeastern coast.

The storm is expected to strengthen into a hurricane by Sunday night, but forecasters said the storm doesn’t pose a threat to the U.S.

The Bahamian government discontinued tropical storm warnings Saturday. As of the 11 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Humberto is moving north-northwest at 6 mph about 85 miles north of Great Abaco Island and 115 miles northeast of Grand Bahama Island.

The center of the storm stalled just east of Great Abaco Island for a few hours Saturday morning. It’s expected to turn sharply away from the Florida coast on Monday as it strengthens into a hurricane and heads northeast, forecasters said.

Humberto has maximum sustained winds of 60 mph, up from 50 mph Saturday afternoon.

Great Abaco Island and Grand Bahama Island, which were devastated by Hurricane Dorian earlier this month, are forecast to experience heavy gusts that should subside by Saturday night. Forecasters predict the storm may bring a maximum of 6 inches of rainfall to the northwestern Bahamas, but it is not expected to bring significant storm surge to the islands.

Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles to the north and east of the storm’s center.

Portions of the Florida and Georgia coasts are forecast to see up to an inch of rain, less than the previously forecast figures of two to four inches.

Swells from the storm are expected to affect the northwestern Bahamas, and the coast of the U.S. from east-central Florida to South Carolina over the next few days. The swells can lead to deadly surf and rip-current conditions, forecasters said.

Stationary storms can bring deadly flooding to hurricane-ravaged areas, as Hurricane Dorian did to the Great Abaco Island and Grand Bahama Island earlier this month, but Humberto is not expected to produce “significant storm surge” on the islands, forecasters said.

Government researchers have concluded that North Atlantic tropical cyclones have become more likely to stall near coastlines and remain parked for longer periods of time.

Dorian killed 50 people on the Bahamas, and the list of missing persons stands at 1,300 people. The formation of Humberto near the islands has temporarily stalled relief efforts and threatens to make life more difficult for survivors still reeling from the Category 5 storm that hit less than two weeks ago.

Humberto is the eighth named storm of the 2019 season and could become the third hurricane Sunday night.

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Martin Vassolo covers the politics and government of Miami Beach for the Miami Herald. He began working for the Herald in January 2018 after attending the University of Florida, where he served as the editor-in-chief of The Independent Florida Alligator. Previously, he was a general assignment reporter on the Herald’s metro desk and a political reporting intern.