Tropical Storm Emily Diverts Cruise Ships as Hurricane Season Looms

Tropical storm Emily is threatening to flood parts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti where 600,000 people are already living in makeshift tents and shantis following the disastrous earthquake in 2010. The US National Hurricane Centre has issued tropical storm warnings for the Dominican Republic, Bahamas and Turks and Caicos, although latest reports say the storm is weakening.

Cruise routes affected

Heavy rain and winds have diverted cruise routes in the Caribbean as ships have been forced to change course to avoid the hazardous conditions. Ships affected include Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, five Carnival Cruise ships and one Princess cruises ship.
Carnival Miracle, on an eight day cruise from New York, Carnival Sensation on a three day sail from Port Canaveral and Carnival fantasy, which is on a five day cruise from Charleston, are among those affected.

While Emily is starting to break up, the forecasts for the rest of the season are less than cheerful. Federal officials in the US have increased the likelihood of a severe hurricane season from 65% in May to 85%, predicting up to nineteen storms of full-blown hurricanes. Hurricane season peaks in the next couple of months, and September is traditionally a critical month.

“We’re expecting activity to pick up," hurricane forecaster Gerry Bell of the National Weather Service said. Warmer-than-normal Atlantic waters and the likely fall return of La Niña conditions that make winds favorable to hurricanes are driving the forecasts.In all, seven to 10 hurricanes are seen for later this year, he said, with projections of three to five of them becoming major hurricanes — Category 3 to Category 5, with winds of 111 mph or higher.

Emily is the fifth tropical storm of this year’s Atlantic season which began on June 1st. Mr. Bell urged those living along the U.S. coast to continue to plan for the prospect of storms this year. According to forecasts, both the Gulf and Atlantic coasts are in for more strikes so both visitors and residents should be prepared.

Weather watchers interested in what creates storms, and which ones are on their way, should visit NASA’s website which has some fascinating insights and research about “all sorts of storms”.

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