The National Hurricane Center said Thursday that Tropical Storm Isaias, which is speeding the Dominican Republic on a projected road to the east coast of the United States, is likely to become a hurricane on -Friday. The storm has already issued a small landslide and caused widespread flooding and power outages in Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from previous hurricanes and earthquakes.
Maximum winds sustained by the 60 mph storm also knocked down trees and some telephone and electrical cables around the island.
The strongest hit was the southern region of Puerto Rico, which is still shaken by the daily tremors. Santos Seda, mayor of the southwestern city of Guánica, told The Associated Press that he had received reports of fallen trees and dilapidated neighborhoods where houses damaged by the earthquake are still.
“People’s emotional state is deteriorating further every day,” he said, adding that crews will be able to assess the damage once the weather clears.
Isaias was centered about 250 miles southeast of the southeastern Bahamas as of Thursday afternoon, according to the National Hurricane Center. It was moving northwest at 20 mph, and its center was expected to hit the southeastern Bahamas by late Thursday evening.
Isaias had already picked up trees in the Dominican Republic as government workers in some slums used speakers to encourage people to evacuate in the face of the worst of the storm. Police also arrested a small number of surfers in the capital Santo Domingo accused of violating government storm warnings.
Isaias seized power from more than 400,000 customers across Puerto Rico and left about 150,000 customers without water, according to government officials. The crew opened the gates of one dam that last month had such a low water level that it led officers to cut off the daily service of about 140,000 customers. Cuts have also been reported in the US Virgin Islands.
Minor damage has been reported elsewhere around Puerto Rico, where tens of thousands of people still use tar as roofs on homes damaged by Hurricane Maria in September 2017.
José Pagán, a 22-year-old living in the eastern mountain town of Juncos, said his strength ran out before dawn.
“I didn’t think she was going to be strong,” the storm said, adding that his home is somewhat flooded. “It’s a pretty difficult experience because it reminds us of Mary.”
Tropical storm warnings have been issued for parts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, Turkey and the Caicos and southeastern Bahamas, central and northwestern. A tropical storm outbreak has been issued for parts of Florida’s east coast.
Isaias is expected to produce 4 to 8 inches of rain across Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and northern Haiti, with an isolated maximum total of 10 inches.
The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands could see 4 to 8 inches of rain while Cuba could see 1 to 2 inches, with an isolated maximum of 4 inches.
“These amounts of rain lead to flash floods and mudslides, as well as flooding of rivers,” the hurricane center warned.
Isaias is the first nine Atlantic storm named after a shape, 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 first storms named Atlantic for their alphabetical order.