After being attacked by wind shear and dry air, Hurricane Katia weakened back to a tropical storm on Thursday afternoon and is not expected to strengthen much on Friday, according to forecasters.
However, the National Hurricane Center says it’s only a temporary setback, and the system likely will return to hurricane strength within the next day. How strong Katia will ultimtely become is still unclear and the subject of competing forecast models.
At 5 a.m. Friday, Tropical Storm Katia was about 750 miles east of the Leeward Islands, moving northwest at 15 mph with sustained winds of 70 mph – or 4 mph shy of hurricane status.
The system’s forecast track continues to suggest South Florida, and likely the rest of the state’s coastline, should be in the clear.
Meanwhile, Tropical Depression 13 is being monitored in the central Gulf of Mexico.
At 5 a.m. , it was 240 miles southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River, slowly moving northwest at 2 mph. Maximum sustained winds were 35 mph, and the storm was forecast to drench the North Gulf Coast, including the New Orleans area.
A tropical storm warning was posted from Pascagoula, Miss., west to Sabine Pass, Texas, including the city of New Orleans, Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas.
Under the latest projection, Katia would be almost 1,000 miles due east of Miami on Tuesday afternoon, as it churns generally northward. It would be about 750 miles east of Daytona Beach on Wednesday.
Just the same, because long-range predictions can hold large errors, forecasters urge residents to remain vigilant.
More immediately, Katia should spare the islands of the eastern Caribbean. It is predicted to be about 350 miles northeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Monday afternoon.
From there, the projected path aims generally toward the Mid-Atlantic states, which were roughed up by Hurricane Irene over the weekend. Katia also could target Bermuda or Canada or curve out to sea.
In emerging on Wednesday night, Katia is only slightly behind schedule; on average, the second hurricane of the season forms on Aug. 28, the third on Sept. 9.
The National Hurricane Center also is monitoring one other disturbance, a low-pressure area about 450 miles south of Halifax, Nova Scotia. It was given a 60 percent chance of developing over the next two days.
The next two named storms will be Lee and Maria.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun