By DÁNICA COTO, Associated Press
HAVANA (AP) — Tropical Storm Fiona threatened to dump up to 12 inches (30 centimeters) of rain in parts of Puerto Rico on Saturday as forecasters placed the US territory under a hurricane watch and people braced for potential landslides, severe flooding and power outages .
The storm was located 135 miles (215 kilometers) southeast of St. Croix early Saturday with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph (95 kph). It was moving west at 13 mph (20 kph) on a path forecast to pass near Puerto Rico. Forecasters warned Fiona could be near hurricane strength when it passes through Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
Fiona is expected to swipe past the Dominican Republic on Sunday and Haiti and the Turks and Caicos Islands on Monday and Tuesday with the threat of extreme rain. The storm is forecast to become a hurricane by Tuesday night near the Bahamas on its way toward open water.
In Puerto Rico, authorities opened shelters and closed public beaches, theaters and museums as they urged people to remain indoors.
“It’s time to activate your emergency plan and contact and help your relatives, especially elderly adults who live alone,” said Dr. Gloria Amador, who runs a nonprofit health organization in central Puerto Rico.
At least one cruise ship visit and several flights to the island were canceled, while authorities in the eastern Caribbean islands canceled school and prohibited people from practicing aquatic sports as Fiona battered the region.
In the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, authorities said they recorded wind gusts of up to 74 mph (120 kph), which would be considered a Category 1 hurricane. They also said 9 inches (23 centimeters) of rain fell in three hours in the Gros Morne area.
Fiona, which is the Atlantic hurricane season’s sixth named storm, was expected to bring 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters) of rain in eastern and southern Puerto Rico, with as much as a foot (30 centimeters) in isolated spots. Rains of 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 centimeters) were forecast for the Dominican Republic, with up to 16 inches (41 centimeters) in places. Life-threatening surf was also possible from Fiona’s winds, forecasters said.
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Lester in the eastern Pacific was on a projected path that could bring landfall near the Acapulco area on Mexico’s southwestern coast Saturday night.
Lester was expected to remain a tropical storm until hitting the Mexican coast. Forecasters warned of potential dangers from heavy rains.
The storm had maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (75 kph) late Friday. It was centered 135 miles (215 kilometers) southeast of Acapulco and moving moving northwest at 10 mph (17 kph).
A tropical storm warning was up from Puerto Escondido to Zihuatanejo. The hurricane center said Lester could drop from 3 to 6 inches (8 to 15 centimeters) of rain on the coasts of upper Guerrero state and Michoacan state, with isolated areas getting 12 inches (30 centimeters).
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