JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Hurricane Cristobal hurled heavy rains across Atlantic and Caribbean islands on Tuesday as it headed toward Bermuda, and officials said the storm had caused at least five deaths.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said the hurricane would likely avoid a collision with the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, but it was generating life-threatening surf and rip current conditions from central Florida to North Carolina.
The storm had maximum sustained winds increased to 80 mph Tuesday evening and it was expected to strengthen slightly by Thursday after passing northwest of Bermuda on Wednesday. It was centered 435 miles west-southwest of Bermuda -- about 595 miles east of Mayport -- and was moving north at 16 mph. Hurricane force winds extended outward up to 60 miles from the center.
Hotel owners and tourist operators in Bermuda were dismayed at the forecast, noting that August already has been one of the rainiest months in recent history for the British island territory.
"It's been a ridiculous, endless amount of rain," said Marlie Powell, owner of the Kingston House Bed & Breakfast. "It's the height of our tourist season, so it's not a happy thing."
The Turks and Caicos said flights resumed Tuesday at the islands' international airport, which closed as the hurricane dumped some 12 inches on the islands. The governor's office reported one death after recovering a body from floodwaters on the main island of Providenciales.
"The situation on North Caicos is extremely serious," said Premier Rufus Ewing, who visited the island on Tuesday. "The flood water in some areas is perhaps 1,000 feet (309 meters) across and up to 5 feet deep in places."
The government said in a statement that it was debating whether to pump out floodwaters or use bulldozers to create new routes to reach some communities. Government offices on North Caicos remained closed.
In addition to the person who died in Turks and Caicos, floodwaters killed two men in the Dominican Republic and two people in Haiti, where roughly 640 families were left temporarily homeless.
Meanwhile in the Pacific, Hurricane Marie was weakening off of Mexico's Pacific coast, though it was generating large, dangerous swells that were nearing the beaches of Southern California.
The hurricane's sustained winds had decreased to near 100 mph from a peak of 160 mph on Sunday. It was expected to slump to tropical storm force on Wednesday. Marie was centered about 675 miles west of the southern tip of Mexico's Baja California Peninsula and moving northwest near 15 mph.
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