Cat. 3 Omar roars away from Leeward Islands


Hurricane Omar, an odd duck that formed in the Caribbean two days ago and appears headed northeastward across the Atlantic toward the Azores - seemingly the reverse of most Atlantic storms - seems to have peaked as a 120-mph Cat. 3 hurricane just as it crossed the northern Leeward Islands overnight.

Here are some early damage reports, including outages at Venezuelan oil ports and gasoline and heating oil refineries on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center, using Air Force reconaissance data and radar imagery from Puerto Rico, said Omar's core and its strongest winds passed through the Anegada Passage, between the Virgin Islands and St. Martin/Maarten in the early morning hours.

The region was under a Hurricane Warning, with forecasters predicting 5 to 10 inches of rain, with localized amounts up to 20 inches. Storm surge flooding along the storm's path and to the right of the path was expected to reach as high as 4 to 6 feet above normal tides, with large and battering waves. The storm surge was expected to be somewhat less for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands - to the left of the storm's path, but forecasters still warned of coastal erosion and damage to waterfront structures in these U.S. possessions.

Here is the latest advisory on Omar. Here is the forecast storm track. And here is the view from orbit.

Omar is continuing to weaken, and will likely become a Cat. 2 storm again in the next few hours.

In the meantime, far to the west. Tropical Depression 16 has gone ashore in Nicaragua and Honduras and other countries in Central America, dumping huge amounts of rain.

Here is the latest advisory. Here is the storm track, and here is the view from space.

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