Tropical Storm Chantal may be weakening in the Caribbean and could lose its status as a tropical storm as it moves toward the island of Hispaniola on Wednesday, forecasters said.
The storm, which spun rapidly through the Lesser Antilles on Tuesday, was about 145 miles south of Port-au-Prince on Wednesday morning, moving west at 29 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Maximum wind speeds had decreased to about 45 miles per hour, with some stronger gusts. Forecasters said the storm probably will degenerate into a tropical wave or tropical depression sometime in the next 24 hours.
A tropical wave is an area of low-pressure that could still carry rain and gusty winds toward land, said Bay News 9 meteorologist Juli Marquez.
Up to 6 inches of rain might deluge isolated parts of Hispaniola, according to the Hurricane Center.
Marquez said forecast models show Tropical Storm Chantal or its remnants heading toward the Bahamas and possibly the east coast of Florida by the weekend.
It's still too early to tell just how that will affect Tampa Bay, she said, but the region will see increased chances for rain beginning Wednesday.
"We still have a lot of moisture that's going to come to Florida, and we're going to start that today with the scattered showers and storms in the afternoon," Marquez said.
Tropical Storm Chantal, or whatever is left of it, might heighten the chance for heavy rains over the weekend, she said.