(28 Aug 2019) Tropical Storm Dorian threatened Puerto Rico with a direct hit on Wednesday, as forecasters said it made a last-minute shift in its path and could reach near-hurricane strength in its approach to the U.S. territory.
The storm is expected to pass over or near western and central Puerto Rico, with landslides, widespread flooding and power outages possible. President Donald Trump declared an emergency Tuesday night and ordered federal assistance for local authorities.
Dorian was located about 275 miles (440 kilometers) southeast of Ponce, Puerto Rico, on Tuesday night. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said it had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph (85 kph) and was forecast to strengthen during the next 24 hours as it moves west-northwest at 13 mph (20 kph). The storm is expected to dump 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters) of rain with isolated amounts of 8 inches (20 centimeters).
The change in the storm’s course concerned many across the U.S. territory, where some 30,000 homes still have blue tarps as roofs nearly two years after Hurricane Maria. The island’s 3.2 million inhabitants still depend on a shaky power grid that has remained prone to outages since it was destroyed by the Category 4 storm.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane watch for Puerto Rico and a tropical storm warning for Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra and the U.S. Virgin Islands. A tropical storm watch was in force for the Dominican Republic from Samaná to Puerto Plata.
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