Tropical Storm Debby Forms

Sunday, August 20th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MIAMI (AP) — Tropical Storm Debby formed Sunday in the western Atlantic, gathering strength gradually as it moved quickly toward the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

The storm could become a hurricane early Tuesday, said Lixion Avila, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

``We don't foresee any rapid intensification, but we forecast it will be a hurricane in a day and a half,'' Avila said Sunday.

Elsewhere, long-lived Hurricane Alberto was still spiraling in the open Atlantic and former Tropical Storm Chris had all but fizzled.

Debby posed no immediate threat to land, but forecasters said they might have to post a hurricane watch late Sunday for part of the Leeward Islands.

If Debby stays on the west-northwesterly track it was on Sunday, it will likely move over Antigua, Guadeloupe, and the rest of the Leeward Islands early Tuesday, Avila said.

``If they haven't already, people in the lesser Antilles and Puerto Rico need to go out now and get all the essentials they need,'' said Stacy Stewart, a hurricane specialist. ``This system needs to be taken seriously.''

By late morning Sunday, Debby had sustained wind blowing at about 45 mph — the threshold for tropical storms is 39 mph. It was located about 775 miles east of the Leeward Islands and was moving west-northwest at a brisk 18 mph.

Alberto, the longest-lived August tropical storm on record, kept going strong Sunday with top sustained wind of about 100 mph. It was located 1,070 miles west of the Azores and was moving north at about 6 mph.

Alberto formed Aug. 4 and hasn't threatened land.

The remnants of Chris had deteriorated into a weak tropical wave, meandering several hundred miles east of the Bahamas with no immediate strengthening expected.