(NEW YORK) — Puerto Rico is bracing for impacts from Tropical Storm Dorian Wednesday before the storm moves north, potentially becoming a major Category 3 hurricane when it reaches Florida on Sunday and Monday.
Dorian isn’t forecast to make landfall in Puerto Rico, but the island may still see 10 inches of heavy rain, as well as mudslides and flooding.
Dorian’s center is forecast to pass to the east of Puerto Rico right over the U.S. Virgin Islands before moving into the Atlantic.
The main island of Puerto Rico is under a tropical storm warning, while Puerto Rico’s Vieques and Culebra islands are under hurricane warnings. The U.S. and British Virgin Islands are also under hurricane warnings.
The Puerto Rican government said it is fully prepared for the tropical storm’s impact. Gov. Wanda Vazquez said Monday night that the government is 90% ready to deal with any possible damage Dorian might cause.
Meanwhile, many in Puerto Rico are still reeling from the devastation of 2017’s Hurricane Maria, including tens of thousands of residents living under blue tarp roofs.
More than 7,400 generators and three mega generators are already on the island, according to the governor, and at least 360 shelters will open, accommodating up to 48,500 people.
President Donald Trump has approved an emergency declaration, which will provide federal assistance in Puerto Rico.
Vazquez said Monday night, “The communication with all [of the president’s] aides has been extraordinary.”
A new Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) representative is on the island assisting in response coordination.
“The response to Tropical Storm Dorian will be on top of a complex recovery effort,” a FEMA spokesperson said. “Even a smaller and less severe storm could have significant impact.”
Since Dorian’s center won’t move over a landmass like Puerto Rico, it’ll spend more time over warm ocean water and in favorable environment of low wind shear. Dorian is now forecast to have an increased wind speed of 115 mph as it gets closer to Florida. Dorian could become a major Category 3 hurricane by Sunday into Monday.
The storm is also impacting Labor Day travelers. Some airlines have issued travel waivers, and Royal Caribbean is closing its private island in the Bahamas for a week and altering some of its cruise ship itineraries to avoid Dorian.
As the Atlantic hurricane season nears Sept. 10 — its peak — Dorian isn’t the only tropical storm on the move. Newly formed Tropical Storm Erin is expected to bring rough surf to the East Coast beaches from the Carolinas to New England this Labor Day weekend.
Otherwise, it is not expected to directly impact the East Coast.
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