Danny Now a Tropical Depression, Headed Towards Drought-Stricken Puerto Rico

Hurricane Danny, which has now weakened to a tropical depression, is still on the fast track to hit the northern Caribbean Islands, and it may be just what the region needs. The Caribbean has been drought-stricken for some time now, so it is most likely that the residents of the area will welcome the rain.

Danny was classified as a hurricane up until 8 a.m EDT on Monday; it was then downgraded to a tropical depression as it reached the outskirts of Guadeloupe. What has really impacted this system is the strong wind shear and dry air surrounding it; that has caused it to substantially weaken from the Category 3 hurricane status that it achieved last Friday.

A wind shear is when strong winds near the surface of the water and surrounding it blow strongly from different directions. As Danny continues to move throughout the region, its interaction with the mountainous terrain of Puerto Rico may force the drop in intensity again to only a tropical rainstorm by midweek. The weakening trend does have a chance to be slowed down, but that it only if the system can manage to bypass one or both of the islands.

Even though the system has weakened substantially, it will still be felt in the form of gusty winds and locally heavy rainfall early on Monday morning, and will last throughout the whole day throughout the Leeward Islands. Rough surf will also be a concern as Danny approaches the Leeward Islands. Locally heavy rain and some gusty winds caused by Danny will reach the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Monday night, and will then extend into Tuesday reaching Hispaniola.

It is expected that about 2 to 4 inches will fall along with Danny, and the heaviest and potentially locally higher amounts will occur north and east of the center of the system. Another risk with this system is isolated flash flooding, which could also lead to mudslides in some areas.  Wind gusts will be strong with this one, and they will average about 40 to 60 mph through Monday.

These conditions may have the potential to cause random power outages, with damage possible in areas with poorly built structures and weaker trees. As Danny begins to weaken, the danger of damaging winds will begin to lessen and the positives of the storm will outweigh more of the negatives.

It would be highly beneficial for Danny to continue on the weakening pattern, as the areas that are expected to be hit (Puerto Rico, Leeward Islands, Hispaniola) have been in a drought for some time.

The United States Drought Monitor reported that nearly 25% of Puerto Rico was suffering from extreme drought. Officials in the area made water rationing programs mandatory, as this is one of the worst droughts on record that Puerto Rico has ever seen.

As far as a long term prediction for Danny, anything that will occur will directly be determined by how it tracks across the northern Caribbean. This system may possibly get shredded apart while traveling across the mountainous regions of Puerto Rico or Hispaniola, which means that there will be only some heavy showers across the Bahamas as we move into next week.

Now if Danny does make it through the mountainous region, the wind shear may slack enough for it to gain some strength and have an impact on the Bahamas. There is also a tropical low present to the west of the Cape Verde Islands, and another that will soon move out from Africa and could possibly undergo some strengthening this week. This tropical low may mimic the movements of Danny, meaning that it might only track through the Atlantic and Caribbean.

As far as the non-tropical low goes, it is near Bermuda and struggling to take on partial tropical characteristics.

On the other side of the spectrum, downpours will continue to target Hawaii this week as Kilo gradually strengthens and makes its way towards the island.

Check back with AccuWeather or The Weather Channel for additional updates on tropical storm Danny and other further developing systems.