Storm Leslie: Could the developing Atlantic hurricane head for the UK?

Weather front currently east of Bermuda threatens to spin north-northeast

Joe Sommerlad
Thursday 04 October 2018 14:27 BST
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Satellite images show Storm Leslie close to Barbados

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Tropical Storm Leslie, which is currently hovering over the mid-Atlantic, has the potential to pose a threat to the UK, forecasters have warned.

Expected to develop into a hurricane as it reaches warmer waters, the stormfront is currently moving in a southwesterly direction towards Bermuda and the eastern United States.

America's National Hurricane Center (NHC) has, however, suggested it could be about to perform an abrupt U-turn and head for the British Isles.

Here’s everything you need to know about its possible progression.

Could Storm Leslie hit the UK?

Later this week the NHC said the storm will head north-northeast towards Britain.

“Surface observations and satellite-derived wind data indicate that a broad area of low pressure has developed over the southwestern Caribbean Sea a couple of hundred miles north of Panama,” it reported. “Shower and thunderstorm activity is currently limited and unfavourable​ upper-level winds are expected to inhibit development over the next couple of days while the low drifts generally northward.

“By late week and over the weekend, however, upper-level winds are forecast to become a little more conducive for development when the system will be moving northwestward into the northwestern Caribbean Sea.”

Other observers are less certain, however.

“Some models suggest Leslie will track south of the UK while others suggest it may move close to the UK by the end of next week,” according to Met Office chief forecaster Andy Page. “It is too early to tell the exact impact on the UK but it will most likely bring a spell of strong winds and rain – the type of weather associated with low-pressure systems at this time of year.”

If Leslie were to make a beeline for Britain, southern coastal communities would need to brace themselves for strong gales and torrential rainfall.

How else might the stormfront develop?

The storm is currently around 570 miles east of Bermuda and bringing winds of 60mph.

Leslie is expected to strengthen as it drifts towards warmer waters, enabling it to absorb additional moisture.

This is certainly bad news for the Caribbean and perhaps the southern US, which could experience swells driving dangerous surf and rip tides towards Bermuda, the Bahamas and the Greater and Lesser Antilles over the coming days.

While Leslie is expected to linger in the central Atlantic for much of the week, its future thereafter is not yet clear-cut so the front is being closely monitored.

It is the 12th named storm to hit the Atlantic basin this hurricane season.

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