SAN JUAN (Puerto Rico), June 23 (AP) — Tropical Storm Brett hit the eastern Caribbean late Thursday, shutting down islands and bracing for heavy rain, landslides and flooding.
A hurricane warning has been issued for St. Lucia, with local forecasters warning that a direct hit is possible.
The center of the storm was about 55 miles (90 kilometers) southeast of St. Lucia Thursday night and was moving westward at 16 mph (26 kph). Maximum sustained winds of 65 mph (100 km/h) were below the Category 1 hurricane threshold of 74 mph (119 km/h).
Airports, businesses, schools and offices in St. Lucia, Dominica, Martinique and other islands are closed by noon.
“Protect your lives, property and livelihoods,” urged Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister Philippe Pierre.
Residents on the island filled their cars with gasoline and stocked up on water and canned food in the hope that the storm would not cause too much damage.
“You have to be ready all the time,” Ben Marcellin, who runs a hotel, said in a telephone interview. “You never know. Things could get serious.”
Authorities in Saint Lucia opened a shelter at the request of some residents who feared their homes would not be able to withstand the storm.
St. Lucia Meteorological Director Andre Joyokos said Brett was expected to pass directly over the island.
“So we want people to pay attention,” he said.
Tropical storm warnings have been issued for Barbados, Dominica, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The US National Hurricane Center in Miami said it expected up to 10 inches (3 centimeters) of rain south of the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, including Barbados. Waves of up to 13 feet (4 meters) were expected in Guadeloupe, according to local meteorologists.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves urged people to go to government shelters if they thought their homes might not be able to withstand the high winds and heavy rain.
“These storms could reverse very quickly,” he warned.
Brett is expected to lose power after entering the eastern Caribbean and is expected to dissipate over the weekend.
The Caribbean is also closely watching the tropical depression tracking Brett. Early forecasts said it could become Tropical Storm Cindy on Friday before moving along the open waters of the northeastern Caribbean.
If the depression intensifies into a storm, it would be the first time since records began that two storms formed in the tropical Atlantic in June, said Colorado State University meteorologist Philip Klotzbach.
NOAA expects between 12 and 17 named storms for this year’s hurricane season. Between five and nine of those storms could become hurricanes, including as many as four major hurricanes of Category 3 or above, the report said. (Associated Press)
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