A hurricane watch has been issued for St. Lucia as Tropical Storm Bret barreled towards the eastern Caribbean on Thursday at hurricane strength. And another tropical storm, Cindy, is forming in the Atlantic with a likely track aimed at the eastern United States.
Bret, which is gaining strength, was located about 170 miles (265 kilometers) east of Barbados on Thursday morning and was moving west at 15 mph (24 kph). It has maximum sustained winds of 70 mph (110 kph), just below the 74 mph (119 kph) winds of a Category 1 hurricane. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration map has a probable path pointing to Central America.
Airports, businesses, schools and offices closed in St. Lucia and Dominica as forecasters warned of heavy downpours, landslides and flooding.
“Protect your life, property and livelihood,” urged St. Lucia Prime Minister Philip Pierre.
Residents across the island filled their cars with gas and stocked up on water and canned food, hoping the typhoon would not cause too much damage.
“You always have to be prepared,” said Ben Marcellin, who runs a guesthouse, in a phone interview. “You don’t know. This could be serious. “
A tropical storm warning is in effect for Dominica, St. Lucia and Martinique, while a tropical storm watch was issued for Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The storm is expected to begin affecting the eastern Caribbean islands on Thursday, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Andre Joyeux, director of St. Lucia’s Meteorological Services, said that Bret is expected to cut directly across the island.
“So we hope people will listen,” he said.
Up to 10 inches of rain is forecast for the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe south to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, including Barbados, the hurricane center said. Waves of up to 13 feet are also forecast for Guadeloupe, according to local meteorologists.
Bret is expected to lose strength once it enters the eastern Caribbean Sea and is expected to dissipate by Saturday.
The Caribbean is also closely watching a tropical depression that follows Bret and has a 90% chance of forming. Early forecasts expected it to become Tropical Storm Cindy on Thursday and take a path northeast of the Caribbean through open waters.
If the depression strengthens into a hurricane, it will be the first time since record keeping that two storms have formed in the tropical Atlantic in June, according to meteorologist Philip Klotzbach of Colorado State University.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts 12 to 17 typhoons for this year’s hurricane season. It says between five and nine of those storms will become hurricanes, including four major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher.
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