JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The system that became Tropical Storm Isaias is now forecast to reach hurricane strength, the National Hurricane Center reported Thursday evening, as the predicted track shifted further east.
At 11 p.m. Thursday, the tropical storm was located about 95 miles east-southeast of Great Inagua Island, in the Bahamas with 60 mph winds and a minimum pressure of 999 mb. It is moving northwest at 20 mph, and a west-northwestward to northwestward motion with some decrease in forward speed is expected over the next couple of days.
Isaias knocked out power and caused flooding and small landslides across Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic on Thursday. The storm’s maximum sustained winds of 60 mph turned several streets into fast-flowing rivers and toppled trees and some telephone and electrical cables in Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from previous hurricanes and earthquakes.
The National Guard rescued at least 35 people, including two newborns. Authorities in the northwest town of Rincon reported a woman missing after floodwaters swept her away when she tried to drive across a bridge.
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Tropical storm warnings were issued for the Turks and Caicos Islands and portions of the Dominican Republic, Haiti and the Bahamas, as well as for the east coast of Florida from Ocean Reef to Sebastian Inlet.
The storm knocked out power to more than 400,000 clients across Puerto Rico, including hospitals that switched to generators, and left some 150,000 customers without water. Crews opened the gates of one dam that last month had such a low water level that officials cut service every other day for some 140,000 customers. Outages also were reported in the neighboring U.S. Virgin Islands.
Minor damage was reported elsewhere across Puerto Rico, where tens of thousands of people still use tarps as roofs over homes damaged by Hurricane Maria in September 2017.
President Donald Trump approved an emergency declaration in Puerto Rico as a result of the storm.
Isaias was expected to produce 4 to 8 inches of rain across Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and northern Haiti, with isolated maximum totals of 10 inches.
Isaias is the earliest ninth Atlantic named storm to form, according to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach. The previous record was Irene on August 7, 2005, Klotzbach tweeted.
So far this year, Cristobal, Danielle, Edouard, Fay, Gert and Hanna have also been the earliest named Atlantic storms for their alphabetic order.
The Associated Press contributed to this report