Tropical Storm Dorian moves across St. Lucia into Caribbean Sea

NHC 11 a.m. Tuesday update shows no major change in strength or forecast

By Mark Collins - Meteorologist, John Gaughan - Chief meteorologist, Rebecca Barry - Meteorologist

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The 11 a.m. forecast from the National Hurricane Center calls for Tropical Storm Dorian will near hurricane strength when it nears Puerto Rico on Wednesday and puts the entire East Coast in the possible path of the season's fourth tropical storm.

Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic are under a hurricane watch and tropical storm warnings for Martinique and St. Vincent and the Grenadines as Tropical Storm Dorian approaches. Tropical Storm Dorian has maximum sustained winds near 50 mph Tuesday morning and is forecast to strengthen during the next 48 hours, passing near or south of the U.S. territory Wednesday just below hurricane strength.

"There is still no significant change to the previous forecast track or reasoning," NHC posted in its last advisory.

This means a continued path just south of Puerto Rico and then interaction with possible landfall on the Dominican Republic Wednesday night. 

The big question in the forecast is how heavily the storm will interact with the land and mountains on Thursday as it moves past Hispaniola. The interaction may tear the storm apart. Also, there is quite a bit of dry air just beyond the island that may act to further erode the storm.

If those factors do not make a strong impact on Dorian, then we will be facing a tropical storm moving through the Bahamas toward South or Central Florida over Labor Day weekend. If it does fall apart, remember that the moisture keeps on trucking toward Florida.

Dorian, what we know.

The latest adjustment to Tropical Storm Dorian's forecast keeps it stronger longer, but keeps below hurricane strength as it passes through the Caribbean.

Monday evening, a Hurricane Hunter aircraft found a weaker than expected storm. Dry air surrounding the storm will stop it from strengthening rapidly. Many of the models including the EURO weaken the low into an open wave Wednesday night before closing in on the Greater Antilles. 

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Islands already feeling impact

The storm knocked out power overnight in Barbados, where crews began clearing downed trees and repairing the electrical grid early Tuesday. Jackie Marshall-Clarke, a spokeswoman for Barbados Light & Power, said on state-owned TV that many communities in the island's northern region were without electricity.

Government officials said that by Tuesday morning, public transportation would resume and businesses would reopen.

Minister of Home Affairs Edmund Hinkson said Dorian "is said to be weakening and that is great news, but we are not out of danger yet."

The storm was expected to dump between 3 to 6 inches of rain in the Windward islands, with isolated amounts of 10 inches.

Tropical storm watches were in force for Dominica, Grenada, Saba, St. Eustatius and parts of the Dominican Republic from Isla Saona to Punta Palenque and from Samaná to Puerto Plata.

In St. Lucia, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet said "we are expecting the worst" and announced that everything on the island of nearly 179,000 people would shut down Monday evening ahead of the storm, but it remained below hurricane strength early Tuesday.

In Puerto Rico, some grocery stores had run out of bottled water as people rushed to buy supplies including generators and filled their cars with gas. Many are worried about power outages and heavy rains on an island still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm that hit in September 2017. Some 30,000 homes still have blue tarps as roofs and the electrical grid remains fragile and prone to outages even during brief rain showers.

"The biggest problem will be the rain," said Roberto García, a forecaster with the National Meteorological Service in Puerto Rico.

On Monday, Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency and provided a list of all the new equipment that public agencies have bought since Hurricane Maria.

"I want everyone to feel calm," she said. "Agency directors have prepared for the last two years. The experience of Maria has been a great lesson for everyone."

She said public schools would close Tuesday afternoon and that at least one cruise ship canceled its trip to Puerto Rico. She said those without a proper roof can stay in one of the 360 shelters around the island.

Also on Monday, a new tropical depression formed between the U.S. Eas Coast and Bermuda. It was located about 365 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras in North Carolina and was moving east at 2 mph with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph. It was expected to become a tropical storm by Tuesday night and continue blowing off the U.S. East Coast this week on a path to Canada's North Atlantic provinces.

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