The hurricane and typhoon seasons are increasing in activity in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and significant storms are expected within the next few days.
The Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30, has seen the development of three tropical storms so far.
In early June, Tropical Storm Andrea dropped 300mm of rain on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula before making landfall in Florida.
Tropical Storm Barry, in mid-June, brought as much as 250mm to parts of Honduras, Belize and the Mexican state of Yucatan.
The latest system, Chantel, is currently heading west-northwestwards towards the Lesser Antilles. Tropical storm warnings are in effect for Barbados, Dominica and Saint Lucia.
This is a storm which will need to be monitored very closely; not because it will be a particularly intense system, but because of its forecast track. If predictions are correct it will pass close to the densely populated islands of Puerto Rico and Hispaniola.
Heavy rain in the region, particularly across Haiti, where thousands of people are living under canvas following previous natural disasters, has the potential to cause further severe flooding and landslide problems.
The eastern Pacific hurricane season, which began officially on May 15, has seen the development of four hurricanes: Barbara, Cosme, Dalila and now Erick.
Hurricane Erick has brought more than 100mm of rain to the coastline around Manzanillo and the strong winds have caused disruption to Mexico’s busiest cargo port. Fortunately, Erick is now weakening and heading westwards away from land.
Meanwhile, the typhoon season in the western Pacific is expected to produce its first typhoon within the next day or so.
Tropical Storm Soulik is currently midway between the remote islands of Iwo To and Guam. Soulik is expected to reach typhoon status by 06GMT on Tuesday.
Thereafter, it will head across open water before passing very close to the Japanese island of Ishigakijima. Winds are likely to gust as high as 200kph and the combination of winds, a huge storm surge and torrential rain could cause problems across Taiwan and southeastern parts of mainland China towards the weekend.