Science

Caribbean islands brace for weakened but dangerous Tropical Storm Beryl

Caribbean islands brace for weakened but dangerous Tropical Storm Beryl

The storm is, however, forecast to maintain this strength as it heads west over the next day, prompting tropical storm warnings for Dominica and Guadeloupe, where gusty winds and one to three inches of rain are possible.

Gov. Ricardo Rossello said an emergency declaration remained in effect in advance of the tropical storm.

The National Weather Service warned islanders that thunderstorms with torrential rainfall and strong gusty winds continued to bombard the eastern half of Puerto Rico.

As the third named storm of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, Chris developed more than a month ahead of normal. Beryl was downgraded to a tropical storm later Saturday. Rossello, who said the island could experience power outages, urged people without sturdy roofs to move in with relatives or a government shelter.

The official death count from the hurricane is 64, but a study by Harvard University and Puerto Rico's Carlos Albizu University estimated there were as many as 4,645 hurricane-related deaths, many of them attributable to the collapse of the electric power grid.

Beryl, which had been the Atlantic season's first hurricane, was losing tropical storm status late Sunday when it crossed Dominica, another island that had been battered by Hurricane Maria, which hit as a Category 5 storm and killed dozens of people.

Meteorologist Marshall Alexander told The Associated Press that officials were anxious about those living with tarps on their roofs after Maria slammed into Dominica as a Category 5 storm a year ago, killing dozens of people.

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Jose Alamo, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, told The Associated Press that 1 to 5 inches (3 to 13 centimeters) of rain fell across Puerto Rico.

"We are in a vulnerable state", he said.

The hurricane center said Beryl's remnant had maximum sustained winds of 40 miles per hour (65 kph) late Sunday and was moving west-northwestward at 26 miles per hour (43 kph).

"Definitely, we were spared the worst", he said.

The storm, 150 miles south of Cape Hatteras, packs maximum sustained winds of 40 mph. Forecasters expected it to gain hurricane strength before moving up Gulf Stream waters on a path that could cause life-threatening surf along East Coast beaches this week.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the remnants of Beryl would move south of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Monday.

No coastal watches or warnings were in place for Chris as of Sunday.