Tropical Storm Chris continues to strengthen this morning, with maximum sustained winds now at 65 mph, just 9 mph short of hurricane strength. It is expected to become a hurricane later today or early tomorrow.Chris is churning west-northwest just north of the Leeward Islands. It is a very compact storm with tropical storm force winds extending 75 miles mainly northeast from the center. Even though it is close to the northern Lesser Antilles, the effects are minimal because of its compact size; weather observations from Anguilla and St. Kitts and Nevis indicate winds are generally blowing at just 10 to 20 mph.
On its current projected path, Chris will pass a short distance north of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands during the day and into the evening hours. Radar out of San Juan, Puerto Rico is already showing the outer bands of Chris sweeping through the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico itself. These squalls will be accompanied with short-lived bouts of heavy rain and gusty winds.
Tropical storm warnings remain posted for Anguilla as well as for Puerto Rico and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. A hurricane watch has now been posted for the Turks and Caicos along with the southeastern Bahamas. A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions are possible during the next 36 hours.
Residents of the Bahamas and south Florida should monitor the progress of Chris closely. Air Force Hurricane Hunters will investigate Chris again this afternoon.