MIAMI (CBS4) —- Hurricane warnings have gone up in parts of the Windward Islands as Tropical Storm Tomas continues strengthening. At 8 am Saturday, Tomas was located 70 miles southeast of St. Lucia and had sustained winds of 70 miles per hour. Barbados has already seem some damage from the storm, and forecasters at the National Hurricane Center say Tomas should become a hurricane later Saturday.
The storm is moving to the west-northwest at 15 miles per hour.
Ahead of Tomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Martinique have all issued Hurricane Warnings.
A tropical storm warning is also in effect for Dominica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Grenada.
CBS 4 Chief Meteorologist David Bernard says all signs are pointing for Tomas to get stronger. “Overall wind shear is low and the waters in the Central and Eastern Caribbean are very warm,” said Bernard. “It looks like Tomas avoids land for the next couple of days and that will allow further strengthening as well.”
Bernard says the high pressure steering the storm to the West will break down early next week. This could allow Tomas to stall. A strong cold front may bring the storm north by the middle and end of next week. Where it stalls and how strong the front will be are questions that can’t be answered at this time.
He says that vulnerable Haiti is definitely an area that needs to be concerned, along with Jamaica, Cuba and the Dominican Republic.
The center of Tomas will pass through the central Windward Islands Saturday afternoon. Tomas is expected to bring hurricane force winds to Barbados early Saturday along with dumping 3 to 5 inches of rain over the area.