The National Hurricane Center said on Thursday that tropical storm Isaias, which is plaguing the Dominican Republic on a projected route toward the east coast of the United States, is likely to become a hurricane on Friday. The storm has already loosened small landslides and caused widespread flooding and power outages in Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from previous hurricanes and earthquakes.
A maximum sustained storm storm of 60 mph also toppled the trees and some telephone and electrical cables across the island.
The southern region of Puerto Rico, which is still shaken by daily routes, has been particularly hard hit. Santos Seda, the mayor of southwestern Guánica, told the Associated Press that he had received reports of felled trees and flooded neighborhoods where houses damaged by the earthquake still stand.
“People̵7;s emotional state is deteriorating every day,” he added, adding that crews will try to assess the damage after clearing the weather.
According to the US National Hurricane Center, Isaias was concentrated about 250 kilometers southeast of the southeastern Bahamas until Thursday afternoon. It was moving northwest at 20 mph and its center was expected to hit the southeastern Bahamas by the end of Thursday night.
Isaiah has already toppled trees in the Dominican Republic because government workers in some slums used loudspeakers to force people to evacuate before the worst of the storm. Police also arrested a handful of surfers in the capital, Santo Domingo, on charges of violating government storm warnings.
According to government officials, Isaiah defeated power for more than 400,000 clients in Puerto Rico, leaving about 150,000 customers without water. Crews opened the gates to a dam that last month had so low water levels that it led officials to cut off services every other day for about 140,000 customers. Outages have also been reported in the neighboring US Virgin Islands.
Minor damage was reported elsewhere in Puerto Rico, where tens of thousands of people still use sails as roofs over houses damaged by Hurricane Maria in September 2017.
José Pagán, 22, who lives in the eastern mountain town of Juncos, said his strength came out before dawn.
“I didn’t think it would be that strong,” he said of the storm, adding that his house was slightly flooded. “It’s a pretty difficult experience because it reminds us of Maria.”
Tropical storm warnings have been issued for parts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the Turks and Caicos, and the southeastern, central and northwestern Bahamas. Tropical storm watches have been issued for parts of the east coast of Florida.
Isaias is expected to produce 4 to 8 inches of rain across Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and northern Haiti, with a maximum isolated maximum of 10 inches.
The islands of the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos saw 4 to 8 inches of rain, while Cuba saw 1 to 2 inches, with isolated maximum units of 4 inches.
“These rainfall amounts will lead to life-threatening flash floods and landslides, as well as river floods,” the hurricane center warned.
According to Phil Klotzbach, a hurricane researcher at Colorado State University, Isaias is the earliest ninth in the Atlantic. The previous entry was Irene on August 7, 2005, Klotzbach tweeted.
This year, Cristobal, Danielle, Edouard, Fay, Gert and Hanna were also the earliest named Atlantic Storms for their alphabetical order.