Hurricane Gonzalo batters the Caribbean

Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands feel the full force of the storm.

    Hurricane Gonzalo is the seventh storm of the Atlantic season. AFP PHOTO/NASA/NOAA/GOES PROJECT/HANDOUT
    Hurricane Gonzalo is the seventh storm of the Atlantic season. AFP PHOTO/NASA/NOAA/GOES PROJECT/HANDOUT

    The seventh named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season is pounding the Caribbean.

    The storm developed from a group of thunderstorms to the east of the Leeward Islands on Monday, and was named Tropical Storm Gonzalo.

    Later in the day, a reconnaissance flight by the US Air Force Hurricane Hunters found a small area of hurricane strength winds within the system, and it was reclassified as a hurricane on Monday evening.

    The storm continued to strengthen as it slammed its way past the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

    The sustained winds within the storm are now 165 kph, which makes the hurricane a Category 2 storm on the 5 point Saffir-Simpson scale, where 5 is the strongest.

    There is a hurricane warning currently in force for the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla, and hurricane force winds are currently hammering the islands.

    As well as damaging winds, Gonzalo is also bringing dangerous surf and torrentially heavy rain to the region. Up to 300 mm of rain is possible in some locations which, given the mountainous terrain, is likely to trigger flash flooding and mudslides.

    The storm is currently creeping north at just 20kph, but over the next few days is expected to accelerate as it swings towards the northeast.

    The current forecast track takes the system directly towards Bermuda, potentially making landfall on Friday or Saturday.

    At this point Gonzales could be the strength of a major category 3 hurricane. This would certainly be a devastating storm for the tiny island and residents are advised to keep a close eye on the forecast over the next few days.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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