Tropical Storm Dorian was approaching the Caribbean early Tuesday. Forecasters say the storm could brush by Puerto Rico as a Category 1 Hurricane late Wednesday before striking the southeast corner of the Dominican Republic early Thursday. (Aug. 27)
Residents in Caribbean islands are bracing Tuesday as Tropical Storm Dorian is forecast to pass across the Windward Islands and into the eastern Caribbean Sea, heading toward Puerto Rico.
Tropical storm warnings were in effect for several islands, including Martinique, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the National Hurricane Center said.
Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic’s east coast from Isla Saona to Samana were also under hurricane watch Tuesday morning, meaning hurricane conditions were possible within the area.
Dorian was about 30 miles southeast of St. Lucia at 5 a.m. Tuesday and moving at 13 miles per hour west-northwest with winds near 50 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The storm is forecast to bring between 3 to 6 inches of rain from Martinique to St. Vincent with isolated areas up to 10 inches, the weather service said. Flash flooding was also possible in areas with more than 4 inches of rain.
Forecasters expected Dorian to intensify as it approaches Puerto Rico in the next day and pass near or south of the U.S. territory Wednesday, bringing between 2 to 4 inches of rainfall.
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In Barbados, the government warned citizens to remain vigilant.
Minister of Home Affairs Edmund Hinkson said the storm “is said to be weakening … but we are not out of danger yet.”
Little damage has been done by the storm as of yet, though there were reports of power outages on the eastern Caribbean island.
“We are expecting the worst,” said St. Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, who announced that everything on the island of nearly 179,000 people would shut down Monday evening.
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Cruise lines sailing out of Port Canaveral, Florida, started rerouting their ships from the eastern to the western Caribbean to avoid the storm.
Residents of Puerto Rico, where about 30,000 homes with blue tarps 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.
Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez on Monday declared a state of emergency and provided a list of all the new equipment that public agencies have bought since Hurricane Maria.
“I want everyone to feel calm,” she said. “Agency directors have prepared for the last two years. The experience of Maria has been a great lesson for everyone.”
Public schools will also close Tuesday afternoon, and the island’s 360 shelters will remain opened for those without proper roofs, she said.
The Hurricane Center said wind and rain impacts are possible in the Bahamas and Florida, but uncertainty remains high.
Contributing: The Associated Press. Follow Ryan Miller on Twitter: @RyanW_Miller
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