The National Hurricane Center said Thursday that Tropical Storm Isaiah, which is gripping the Dominican Republic on a projected track toward the U.S. East Coast, is likely to become a hurricane on Friday. The storm has already erupted small landslides and caused widespread flooding and power outages in Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from previous hurricanes and earthquakes.
The maximum sustained storm winds of 60 mph also knocked down trees and some telephone and electricity cables across the island.
Particularly affected was the southern region of Puerto Rico, which is still shaken by daily tremors. Santos Seda, the mayor of the southwestern town of Guwestnica, told the Associated Press that he has received reports of dilapidated trees and flooded neighborhoods where earthquake-damaged homes still stand.
“People̵7;s emotional state is getting worse every day,” he said, adding that crews will be evacuated to assess the damage once the weather clears.
Isaias was concentrated about 250 miles southeast of the southeastern Bahamas as of Thursday afternoon, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. It was moving north-west at 20 km / h, and its center was expected to hit the southeastern Bahamas until late Thursday evening.
Isaias was already cutting down trees in the Dominican Republic after government employees in some slums used loudspeakers to urge people to evacuate in the face of the worst of the storm. Police also arrested a handful of surfers in the capital Santo Domingo accused of violating government storm warnings.
Isaias took power for more than 400,000 customers in Puerto Rico and left about 150,000 customers without water, according to government officials. Crews opened the gates of a dam that had such a low water level last month, prompting officials to cut off service every other day for about 140,000 customers. Outages were also reported in the neighboring US Virgin Islands
Minor damage was reported elsewhere in Puerto Rico, where tens of thousands of people still use tarps as roofs over homes damaged by Hurricane Maria in September 2017.
José Pagán, a 22-year-old living in the eastern mountain town of Juncos, said his power came out before dawn.
“I did not think it would be so strong,” he said of the storm, adding that his house was slightly flooded. “It’s a very difficult experience because it reminds us of Maria.”
Tropical storm warnings were issued for parts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, Turks and Caicos, and the southeastern, central and northwestern Bahamas. A tropical storm hour was released for parts of the east coast of Florida.
Isaias is expected to produce 4 to 8 inches of rain in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and northern Haiti, with a maximum isolated total of 10 inches.
The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands can see 4 to 8 inches of rain while Cuba could see 1 to 2 inches, with a maximum isolated total of 4 inches.
“These amounts of rain will lead to clutter floods and landslides, as well as river flooding,” the hurricane center warned.
Isaias is the formation of the earliest storm of the Ninth Atlantic, according to hurricane researcher at Colorado State University 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 storms named Atlantic for their alphabetical order.