RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- As Danielle weakened while churning in the open waters of the North Atlantic, another storm developed to its south near the Caribbean and may bring flooding to the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
Tropical Storm Earl became the fifth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season on Friday, forming 185 miles east of the Leeward Islands with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The storm is forecast to move west-northwest, producing rainfall totals of 2 to 4 inches across the Leeward Islands, US and British Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico this weekend, with isolated amounts up to 6 inches possible.
Tropical storm force winds are expected to remain on the northern and eastern side of the circulation and remain offshore from these islands. However, "any southward shift of Earl's center would increase the risk of tropical storm force winds in those areas," the hurricane center warned late Friday.
Gusty squalls with embedded heavy rain could lead to limited flash flooding, particularly in urban locations and small streams for the areas affected, according to the hurricane center.
Meanwhile, Danielle -- far from any Atlantic shoreline -- did not show movement late Friday and is expected to remain largely stationary over the weekend, according to the hurricane center. The storm had reached hurricane status but weakened to tropical storm strength with sustained winds of 70 mph early Saturday.
"While it is not known why the storm has weakened, one possibility is that the slow motion has allowed the cyclone to upwell cold water underneath it," the NHC said in its updated forecast discussion. Some restrengthening back to hurricane status is possible Sunday into Monday.
Danielle became the first hurricane of the Atlantic season and was the first named storm in the North Atlantic since July 3, the hurricane center said. The average date for the season's first hurricane is August 11.
Last month was the first August in 25 years not to bring a single named storm in the Atlantic.
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