Thursday, October 16, 2008

Major Hurricane Omar Weakens After Passing Virgin Islands;
Heads for Central Atlantic

After developing on Monday in the eastern Caribbean, Tropical Depression 15 became Tropical Storm Omar on Tuesday. Moving northeastward, Omar was a hurricane by Tuesday night.

The hurricane continued strengthening on Wednesday, reaching major status (Category 3) with maximum winds of 120 mph as it approached the northern Leeward and Virgin Islands Wednesday night. The storm passed about 25 miles east of St. Croix and about 70 miles west of St. Maarten and accelerated toward the northeast.

As Omar moved away from the Leeward Islands, reconnaissance reports indicated that maximum winds had increased to 125 mph in the early morning hours today. By 8 am, maximum winds had decreased to 115 mph, and they continued to weaken to 85 mph at 11 am.

Hurricane Omar is now racing north northeast at 26 mph toward the central Atlantic with maximum winds of 75 mph. Continued gradual weakening is expected as the storm also slows its forward speed and turns more toward the east.

Images: Hurricane Omar observed tropical storm and hurricane wind swaths and forecast track from National Hurricane Center

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