The tropical weather system Kirk, which dissipated in the eastern Atlantic, has regained strength and this morning been reclassified as a tropical storm that forecasters expect will pass south of the territory late Friday afternoon.
In its 11 a.m. AST update Wednesday morning, the National Hurricane Center said an Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft and other data show the that the storm has achieved maximum winds of about 45 mph. Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 115 miles from the center.
At the same time, the forecast noted a large increase in westerly shear is expected within the next 18 to 24 hours, meaning not much more strengthening is likely and a weakening trend should commence in a day or so.
Strong westerly shear is likely to continue to adversely affect Kirk while it moves over the Caribbean, and the system should weaken into a depression within 72 hours or sooner, and become a remnant low later in the forecast period, the NHC said.
As of 11 a.m. the storm was tracking to the west at 18 miles per hour, headed to the northern Windward Islands. Tropical storm watches and warnings are posted for Barbados, St. Lucia, Dominica, Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Vincent & the Grenadines.
On the forecast track, Kirk is expected to approach Barbados and the northern Windward Islands Thursday afternoon and move into the eastern Caribbean Sea by Friday morning. Rapid weakening is expected on Friday after Kirk moves over the eastern Caribbean.
On the projected path, Kirk will make its closest point of approach to the Virgin Islands around 5 p.m. on Friday, when the center passes approximately 152 miles to the south-southwest of St. Croix as a tropical storm with winds between 35 and 45 miles per hour. The winds of Kirk are not expected to impact the territory.