Danielle falters; new storm brews off Cape Verde
The pace of storm formation is picking up in the waters near the Cape Verde Islands in the eastern tropical Atlantic. Even as a slightly weakened Hurricane Danielle continues to move across the central Atlantic, forecasters are preparing to issue advisories on a new storm brewing off West Africa.
First Danielle. After reaching Cat. 2 strength late yesterday, the storm has been downgraded Tuesday morning to a Cat. 1 storm again, with top sustained winds of just 80 mph. Erosion of the storm's eye wall by an infusion of dry air ended Danielle's acceleration "with a thud," forecasters said.
UPDATE 5:30 p.m.: Danielle was downgraded this afternoon to a tropical storm, with top sustained winds of just 70 mph. But forecasters predicted the demotion would be temporary. Restrengthening to hurricane stature is expected within 48 hours.
The weakening seems to have caught hurricane-watchers by surprise. Here's how they see the storm's immediate future:
"SHIPS GUIDANCE SHOWS WESTERLY TO SOUTHWESTERLY SHEAR INCREASING TO BETWEEN 15 AND 20 KT OVER THE NEXT 24 HOURS OR SO...AND IT IS UNCLEAR HOW WELL DANIELLE WILL BE
ABLE TO MIX OUT THE DRY AIR. ONLY SLOW STRENGTHENING IS INDICATED
IN THE OFFICIAL FORECAST."
For now, they have set aside previous advisories that the storm would reach "major" (Cat. 3) status in the next few days. Although the track has edged a bit farther to the left than expected, Danielle is still expected to make a turn to the north before ever becoming a threat to the East Coast of the U.S. It would pass well east of Bermuda, too.
Not far behind Danielle, the next Cape Verde storm is brewing off West Africa. Forecasters give it a 90 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours. For now, it is a tropical depression about 1,100 miles east of the Lesser Antilles. It is moving west northwest at 15 mph.