By Circles Robinson

HAVANA TIMES, Oct. 30 — Tropical Storm Tomas is close to becoming a hurricane as it enters the Eastern Caribbean on Saturday morning, notes weather experts at Cuba’s Meteorology Institute (INSMET).

The weather system could pose a threat to several Caribbean nations as it moves west, projects the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami, which has a hurricane warning in effect for the arc of small island nations that act as the gateway to the Caribbean.

At 6:00 a.m. EST, Tomas was churning only 25 kilometers (15 miles) west-southwest of Barbados and 88 kilometers (55 miles) east of San Vicente in the Lesser Antilles.  INSMET said Tomas packs maximum sustained winds of 110 kph (70 mph) with a minimum central pressure of 994 millibars.

The fast moving system is traveling west-northwest at 26 kph (16 mph), said the Institute.

CNN estimates that Tomas could leave a total of 3 to 5 inches of rain across parts of the Winward Islands and southern Leeward Islands.

Meanwhile, the NHC projects Tomas will become a major hurricane (with winds of over 110 mph) by the middle of next week as it moves south of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, on a route that could take it close to Jamaica.

The NHC projection cone shows outer bands of the storm reaching far eastern Cuba by the end of next week.

INSMET’s next advisory is due at 12 noon EST.


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