Battered Caribbean islands brace for approach of Tropical Storm Maria
Hurricane watches are in effect for several of the islands that were hit hard by hurricane Irma last week, including St. Martin, St. Barts, and Antigua and Barbuda.
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SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — The islands of the eastern Caribbean prepared Sunday to face another potential disaster, with forecasters saying newly formed and strengthening Hurricane Maria was headed for a hit on the Leeward Islands by Monday night.
Hurricane or tropical storm warnings were posted for many of the islands, including those already coping with the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma, such as St. Barts and Antigua and Barbuda.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Maria was expected to gain power and likely would be near major hurricane strength while crossing through the Leeward Islands late Monday on a path aiming toward Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
The storm had maximum sustained winds of 85 mph (140 kph) late Sunday. It was
It could make a direct hit on Puerto Rico, which was spared the full brunt of Irma, though power was knocked out to much of the island.
Gov. Ricardo Rossello said officials had prepared about 450 shelters with a capacity for nearly 68,000 people — or even 125,000 in an emergency. He said schools were cancelled for Monday and government employees would work only a half day.
Officials in the Dominican Republic urged people to leave areas prone to flooding and said fishermen should remain in port.
Meanwhile, long-lived Hurricane Jose was moving northward off the U.S. Atlantic Seaboard, kicking up dangerous surf and rip currents. It wasn't expected to make landfall but a tropical storm watch was posted for all of the coast from Delaware to Massachusetts' Cape Cod.
In the Pacific, Tropical Storm Norma's threat to Mexico's Los Cabos area appeared to ease. Forecasters said the storm's
Norma had winds of about 50 mph (85 kph) and it was
The Baja California Sur state government readied storm shelters and
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Lee weakened into a tropical depression far out in the Atlantic while Otis strengthened into a hurricane out in the Pacific. Neither threatened land.