Hurricane Jerry forms in the Atlantic, but its predicted path still keeps it out to sea

Hurricane Jerry is predicted to stay clear of land as it moves through the Atlantic, according to the forecast, but will still be bringing heavy rain and possible flash flooding to the northern Leeward Islands Friday.

The 8 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center showed the storm’s maximum winds had slightly weakened to 100 mph, and could see a a “gradual weakening trend” the rest of the day. But, forecasters expect it will remain a hurricane for the next few days.

The fourth hurricane of the 2019 season is expected to pass to the north of the Leeward Islands in the Eastern Caribbean Friday, a handful of which are under tropical storm watches. The Leeward Islands include the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, St. Maarten/St. Martin, St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Montserrat, Guadeloupe and Dominica.

Many of them were impacted by Hurricanes Irma or Maria in 2017.

The latest track keeps the storm far away from most land, although Thursday morning’s update showed Bermuda had entered the five-day “cone of concern” for Jerry. The British Overseas Territory was hit by Category 3 Hurricane Humberto on Wednesday, and Jerry could show up as a hurricane in about a week.

“On the forecast track, the center of Jerry will move north of the northern Leeward Islands later today, pass well north of Puerto Rico on Saturday, and be well east-northeast of the southeastern Bahamas on Sunday,” forecasters wrote Friday.

The National Weather Service said Jerry is “not expected to have any direct impact to South Florida,” but the Atlantic coast may see some strong waves late next week.

Jerry is about 155 miles east-northeast of Barbuda. Hurricane force winds extend 25 miles from the center of the storm, and tropical storm force winds stretch out to 80 miles from the center. It’s moving west-northwest at about 16 mph.

Tropical Storm watches are in effect for St. Maarten/St. Martin, Barbuda, Anguilla, St. Barthelemy, Saba and St. Eustatius. The NHC forecasts estimate those areas could see one to three inches of rain, with isolated areas seeing from four to six inches from Barbuda northwest across St. Maarten, Anguilla, and Anegada. “life-threatening” flash floods and rip currents are possible.

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.
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