The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Thursday predicted nine to 15 named storms. It says four to eight of them will become hurricanes and two to four of those major hurricanes with 111 mph winds or higher. (May 23)
Forecasters issued tropical storm warnings for several Caribbean islands as strengthening Tropical Storm Dorian approached the region Monday.
Warning that tropical storm conditions will hit parts of the Windward Islands through Tuesday morning, the National Hurricane Center also said Dorian is expected to become a Category 1 hurricane as it moves near and passes Puerto Rico on Wednesday and eastern Hispaniola after that.
As of 11 p.m. EDT, Dorian had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph, with higher gusts, the hurricane center said. The storm is expected to bring tropical storm conditions to the Windward Islands, with rain totals of 3 to 8 inches. Strong winds, rough surf and flooding are all possible, AccuWeather said.
Tropical storm warnings are in place for St. Lucia, Martinique, Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Dorian, the fourth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, was centered about 95 miles east-southeast of St. Lucia by 11 p.m., moving west-northwest at 13 mph.
Prime Minister Mia Mottley closed schools and government offices across Barbados as she warned people to remain indoors.
“When you’re dead, you’re dead,” she said in a televised address late Sunday. “Stay inside and get some rest.”
Many of the island’s 285,000 residents took heed, among them Fitz Bostic, owner of Rest Haven Beach Cottages, who said he’s ready for utility services to be out.
“We have to be very cautious,” he said by phone. “The word ‘storm’ frightens me, man. I’m very nervous.”
Cruise lines sailing out of Port Canaveral, Florida, started rerouting their ships from the eastern to the western Caribbean to avoid the storm.
Forecasters issued a hurricane watch for St. Lucia on Monday, but later downgraded it to a tropical storm warning. St. Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet said everything on the island of nearly 179,000 people would shut down by 6 p.m. Monday.
“We are expecting the worst,” he said.
“Some strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Dorian is expected to be a hurricane when it moves near Puerto Rico and eastern Hispaniola,” the hurricane center said.
Residents of Puerto Rico, where about 30,000 homes with blue tarps serving as roofs provide a reminder of the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria nearly two years ago, lined up at stores to stock up on supplies such as food, generators and bottled water.
It’s still too early to predict whether Dorian will hold together long enough to potentially impact the Bahamas or the mainland U.S., AccuWeather said. However, people in these areas should be keeping a watchful eye on the forecast leading up to Labor Day weekend.
A separate system is also strengthening off the southeast coast of the U.S., and it could become Tropical Storm Erin within the next couple of days. Although it’s likely to remain offshore, the storm should still bring strong surf to much of the Atlantic coast this week, AccuWeather said.
Contributing: Dave Berman, Florida Today; The Associated Press; Kristin Lam, USA TODAY
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