Tropical Storm Bret strengthened on Wednesday as it hit eastern Caribbean islands bracing for torrential rains, landslides and flooding.
Bret had maximum sustained winds of 60 mph (95 km/h) early Wednesday morning and was moving west across the Atlantic Ocean at 14 mph (22 km/h), according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
The storm was located about 470 miles (760 kilometers) east of Barbados and is expected to strengthen before hitting several eastern Caribbean islands Thursday at near-hurricane strength. A tropical storm watch was in effect for Barbados, Martinique and Dominica, as officials in the region urged people to prepare for Bret. A tropical storm warning has been issued for Saint Lucia.
“We all know the uncertainty with the intensity of forecasts, movement and impact of weather systems,” said Fitzroy Pascal of Dominica’s disaster management office.
A special aircraft is expected to investigate the storm later Wednesday and provide a better estimate of Bret’s intensity, according to the hurricane center. Officials said it was too early to know where Bret’s center would pass, but warned that up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain was forecast from the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe to the south of Grenada and Barbados.
The Guadeloupe government warned that the bad weather would start Thursday morning and continue until Friday evening, with waves of up to 3.5 meters.
SEE ALSO | NOAA predicts ‘near-normal’ outlook for 2023 Atlantic hurricane season
Hurricane season began on June 1, and two named storms have already formed. The first, Arlene, formed on June 2 in the Gulf of Mexico and tracked south away from the United States. It dissipated before causing major damage to islands in the area.
SEE ALSO | How to prepare for a hurricane
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