Hurricane Danny is weakening but continues to track toward the drought-stricken northern Caribbean Islands.
Danny continues to weaken from the Category 3/major hurricane status it achieved on Friday as it interacts with stronger wind shear and drier air.
As of 5 a.m. EDT Saturday, Danny was a Category 2 hurricane and located about 740 miles east of the Leeward Islands.
The west-to-northwest heading of Danny will take the system across or near the northern islands of the Caribbean during the first part of the new week.
"If Danny takes the westward track across the Leewards early next week, it would encounter progressively more resistance from the islands and greater wind shear, especially as it approaches Puerto Rico and Hispaniola," stated AccuWeather Tropical Expert Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski.
"Wind shear is when strong winds near the surface and aloft blow strongly from different directions," stated AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.
The mountainous terrain of Puerto Rico and Hispaniola disrupt the circulation of tropical systems passing across or nearby, causing weakening.
"We have a concern that Danny may skip just north of the Antilles next week," Kottolowski added. "If this happens, there would not be as many reasons for the system to weaken and the chance of the system getting closer to the United States mainland would increase."
Impacts to the Bahamas later next week would also increase given this latter scenario, which AccuWeather meteorologists will be closely monitoring.
Even prior to interacting with Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, Danny should weaken to a tropical storm by the time it reaches the northern Leeward Islands as the new week begins.
"Despite the projected weakening, [Danny] will likely bring heavy rainfall and gusty winds to the Leeward Islands late Sunday night and Monday," stated AccuWeather Meteorologist Evan Duffey. "Wind gusts may be strong enough to cause sporadic power outages across the Leeward Islands."
Duffey then expects the locally heavy rain and some gusty winds associated with Danny to reach the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Monday night into Tuesday and then Hispaniola on Tuesday night into Wednesday.
While the potential exists for flash flooding, rough seas and surf as well as travel disruptions to the northeastern part of the Caribbean, the rainfall will definitely be beneficial.
"A weakened Danny may be just what the doctor ordered for drought-stricken areas from the Leewards to Puerto Rico and Hispaniola with rounds of drenching rain with the more westward track," Kottlowski added.
Officials on Puerto Rico were forced to enact water rationing programs with the island in one of its worst droughts in history.
Danny is not the only tropical feature that the AccuWeather Hurricane Center is monitoring.
A tropical wave located near the Cape Verde Islands and another that will soon emerge from Africa could gradually develop in the new week. The first tropical wave may take a track through the Atlantic similar to Danny.
In addition, a non-tropical low spinning near Bermuda will attempt to become partially or fully tropical this weekend before merging with a frontal boundary and racing off into the northern Atlantic early next week.
While there are no immediate tropical threats to the East or Gulf coasts of the United States, residents of Hawaii are being put on alert for the potential dangers from Kilo next week.
During El Niño, the number of named tropical systems in the Atlantic basin tends to be lower than average.
AccuWeather is forecasting eight tropical storms, four hurricanes and one major hurricane for the 2015 season with two to three landfalls in the United States. Ana and Bill made landfall in the U.S. during May and June respectively.
AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski contributed to the content of this story.