At 200 pm the centre of tropical storm Gonzalo was located by an air force reserve reconnaissance aircraft and Guadeloupe radar near latitude 17.4 north longitude 62.4 west. Gonzalo is moving toward the west-northwest near 10 mph. This general motion is expected to continue today followed by a turn toward the northwest tonight. On the forecast track the Centre of Gonzalo will continue to move through the northern Leeward Islands tonight and be near or over the British Virgin Islands tonight and early Tuesday.
Reports from the reconnaissance aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 70 mph with higher gusts. Additional strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours…and Gonzalo is expected to become a hurricane by this evening.
Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles from the centre. The minimum central pressure recently measured by the aircraft was 988 mb.
Satellite and flight recon data indicate that Gonzalo continues to become better organized. Due to favorable environmental conditions and the current rate of organization, we cannot rule out the system becoming a hurricane by the time it makes its closest approach to the British Virgin Islands tonight. Gonzalo is a small compact system and will remain so as it traverses over the northeastern Caribbean over the next 18 to 24 hours. Therefore, if the system reaches hurricane force, the hurricane force winds will likely be contained in the northern eyewall no more than 25 miles from the centre. Continued strengthening is expected after Gonzalo exits the Caribbean region. There is some uncertainty regarding the forward speed beyond 60 hours.
Hazards affecting land
Wind: Hurricane conditions are expected in the British Virgin Islands tonight and early Tuesday. Hurricane conditions are possible within the hurricane watch area tonight and early Tuesday with tropical storm conditions expected by this evening. Tropical storm conditions will continue to spread over portions of the warning area in the Leeward Islands today.
Rainfall: Gonzalo is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 4 to 8 inches across the Leeward Islands…British Virgin Islands…and Puerto Rico…with isolated maximum totals of 12 inches possible.
Surf: Swells generated by Gonzalo are affecting the Leeward Islands from Dominica northward. Swells will reach the British Virgin Islands this afternoon and evening. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.
Residents are urged to complete preparations prior the arrival of Tropical Storm Gonzalo.