By Renee Duff, AccuWeather meteorologist
March 25,2017, 6:16:37AM,EDT
An area of disturbed weather near Hispaniola is being monitored for potential tropical development early next week.
“Although the official start to the Atlantic hurricane season is over two months away, the potential exists for a storm system strengthening to the north of Puerto Rico and Hispaniola this weekend to develop into the first named storm of the season,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Kyle Elliott said.
The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season does not officially begin until June 1.
There has only been one tropical system in the Atlantic basin in March since records began in 1851, and this occurred in 1908.
The storm could contain both tropical and non-tropical features, making it a subtropical storm.
“The main difference between a tropical and subtropical storm is that subtropical storms are less organized, with the strongest winds and thunderstorms well removed from the storm’s center,” Elliott said.
Should sustained winds around the center reach or exceed 39 mph, the storm would be given the name Arlene.
Winds, rain and seas will intensify around the storm regardless of whether it develops into a full-blown tropical system.
Blustery rain showers and squalls will drench Hispaniola and Puerto Rico through the weekend as the storm strengthens. Flash flooding and mudslides are possible across the mountainous terrain.
Waves of 10 to 15 feet will build and expand outward around the storm.
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The north-facing beaches of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico and north- and east-facing beaches of the Bahamas will be at most risk for rough surf and rip currents. Bathers and boaters will need to exercise caution.
The storm is forecast to turn north and east away from the Bahamas on Sunday and Monday.
Bermuda will likely get brushed by rain and wind from the storm early in the week.
The threat for flooding rain and potentially damaging winds will be higher should the storm track farther north and closer to the island than currently anticipated.
Regardless, rough seas and swells are predicted to batter Bermuda on Monday into Tuesday.
Shipping and cruise interests should monitor this early season storm closely for any changes in track or intensity.
“Mariners in the storm’s path should take precautions to minimize potential interaction with the storm and refrain from venturing out in boats or small craft vessels,” Elliott said.
The storm will be swept out to sea during the middle and latter half of the week, ending the threat for rough surf over the western Atlantic.