Beryl drops to tropical storm
Former hurricane expected to hit Lesser Antilles with heavy rain
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Beryl weakened to a tropical storm Saturday but was still expected to dump heavy rain over the Lesser Antilles at the end of the weekend on its way to the eastern Caribbean, bringing a new threat to islands still rebuilding from last year’s storms.
A tropical storm warning was issued for Guadeloupe and Dominica, the latter still recovering after a battering by Hurricane Maria in September as a Category 5 storm. Dominica’s meteorological service said weather conditions would start deteriorating Saturday night and warned of at least four inches of rain, with the storm expected to pass over or near Dominica late Sunday or early Monday.
Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said in a public address that the storm’s track and intensity could still change and urged people to remain alert. He also asked people to store water because he said the government would be shutting down the water system as a protective measure.
“They should not let their guard down,” he said.
A tropical storm watch was issued for the French Caribbean territories of Martinique, St. Martin and St. Barts as well as St. Maarten and the islands of Barbados, St. Lucia, Saba and St. Eustatius. Deeper into the Caribbean, a state of emergency was declared in Puerto Rico, where Maria caused damages estimated at more than $100 billion.
Beryl had become the first hurricane of the Atlantic season Friday, but it weakened to a tropical storm Saturday. Late in the afternoon, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said Beryl had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph. It was centered 605 miles east-southeast of the Lesser Antilles and was moving west at 17 mph.
Forecasters said Beryl was expected to weaken further after entering the Caribbean. It was expected to pass south of Puerto Rico on Monday, but forecasters warned the stormwracked U.S. territory could see up to 30 mph winds and heavy rains that could cause flooding and mudslides.
Meteorologist Ernesto Morales said two to four inches of rain was expected across Puerto Rico, with higher amounts in isolated areas.
Forecasters said Beryl probably would dissipate once it moved south of Haiti and the Dominican Republic on Tuesday or Wednesday.