Tuesday, August 31st, 2010...3:38 pm

Fiona weakens to tropical storm

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MIAMI, CMC – Fiona was downgraded to a minimal tropical storm but forecasters said that severe weather conditions could spread over portions of the northern leeward Islands later on Tuesday or early Wednesday.

The Miami-based National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said that Fiona was 270 miles east of the Leeward Islands and had maximum sustained winds of 40 miles per hour.

Severeal Caribbean countries, including Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, Anguilla, St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius, said a storm watch would remain in effect while a strom warning had been issued for St. Martin and St. Barthelemy.

At 5.00 local time, the center of the storm was located near latitude 16.7 north, longitude 57.7 west and is moving towards the west-northwest near 24 miles per hour.

NHC said that a turn towards the northwest with a decrease in forward speed is anticipated on Tuesday night and Wednesday and that on the forecast track, “the center of Fiona is expected to pass near or northwest of the northern Leeward Islands late tonight or early Wednesday”.

Meanwhile, the regional airline, LIAT said that its services are expected to operate as scheduled on Wednesday.

“The only exception to this resumption of service is likely to be Anguilla where the airport remains closed following the passage of Hurricane Earl,” the airline said, adding that due to the impending passage of Fiona, passengers should be aware that some disruptions and delays are likely to occur.

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