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Tropical storm watches and warnings cover parts of the Caribbean as Bret is forecast to bring strong winds and flooding

Tropical Storm Bret again strengthened slightly during the day Wednesday and is forecast to reach the Lesser Antilles on Thursday as a strong tropical storm.

Now packing 65 mph winds, the storm is likely already near its peak intensity.

“Little change in strength is forecast during the next day or so while Bret approaches the Lesser Antilles,” the National Hurricane Center said in an evening advisory. “Weakening is anticipated to begin Thursday night or Friday after Bret passes the Lesser Antilles, and the system is likely to dissipate over the central Caribbean Sea by Saturday.”

Bret is expected to bring strong winds, torrential downpours that could lead to flash flooding and rough surf to parts of the Caribbean.

Track Tropical Storm Bret

A tropical storm warning is in effect Wednesday for St. Lucia and Martinique, meaning tropical storm conditions are possible within 36 hours. Tropical storm watches are in effect for Barbados and Dominica, meaning tropical storm conditions are possible there within 48 hours.

“Interests elsewhere in the Lesser Antilles should monitor the progress of Bret,” the NHC said. “Additional watches or warnings may be required.”

While the storm is still pretty ragged and a little disorganized, residents and tourists should prepare, according to the NHC.

“Through Saturday, storm total rainfall amounts of 3 to 6 inches with maximum amounts of 10 inches possible across portions of the Lesser Antilles from Guadeloupe south to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, including Barbados,” the NHC warned. “The heavy rainfall could lead to flash flooding, especially across areas of higher terrain. Urban flooding is also possible.”

How to prepare for hurricane season

The storm’s center is expected to approach the Lesser Antilles Thursday, move across the islands throughout the day and night and then move west across the eastern and central Caribbean Sea Friday and Saturday before it dissipates, the NHC said.

2nd named storm of 2023 hurricane season

Bret is the second named storm of the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season.

A near-average number of storms is forecast this year: 12 to 17 named storms, five to nine hurricanes and up to four major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has said.

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

This post appeared first on cnn.com

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