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Tropical Storm Bret no longer forecast to become a hurricane

Tropical Storm Bret could reach the Lesser Antilles islands in the Caribbean Sea by late Thursday.

But the storm is not expected to become a rare June hurricane as had been previously thought, the National Hurricane Center said Tuesday.

Bret, centered in the Atlantic hundreds of miles east of the Lesser Antilles, strengthened slightly on Tuesday afternoon, with maximum sustained winds at 45 mph, the hurricane center said Tuesday evening.

Bret is expected to impact the Lesser Antilles as a tropical storm – counter to previous forecasts predicting it could be at hurricane strength – with its center expected to move through the island group between Thursday afternoon and night, the hurricane center said.

A tropical storm watch is in effect for the island nation of Barbados.

Track Bret here

While Bret may no longer be forecast to become a hurricane, its impact will still be felt in the islands.

“Rainfall amounts of 4 to 6 inches with maximum amounts of 10 inches are possible across portions of the Lesser Antilles from Guadeloupe southward to St. Lucia,” the hurricane center said. “Rainfall amounts of 2 to 4 inches are possible across Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

The heavy rain could mean flash flooding, especially across higher areas, while urban flooding is also possible, the hurricane center said.

There may still be some shifts in the forecast track, and the hurricane center is urging residents of the Lesser Antilles, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to monitor forecast updates.

How to prepare for the hurricane

Once Bret crosses over the Lesser Antilles, the storm is forecast to weaken further.

“Drier mid-level air should begin to get entrained into the system,” the hurricane center said. “This will likely cause a weakening trend to commence after Bret moves into the Caribbean.”

The storm currently is not expected to impact the US mainland.

The hurricane center first identified the storm as a tropical depression a little over 1,400 miles east of the Windward Islands in a Monday morning update.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is forecasting a near average hurricane season when it comes to the number of storms. It’s forecasting 12 to 17 named storms, five to nine hurricanes and up to four major hurricanes – which is a Category 3 storm or higher.

If Bret had strengthened into a hurricane, it would have been considered a rarity. The first hurricane usually doesn’t form until early to mid-August, according to the hurricane center.

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