Tropical Depression Drenches Bahamas, Is Expected to Turn North
MIAMI (AP) _ A tropical depression 50 miles east of Miami drenched parts of the Bahamas Saturday, and hurricane experts predicted the poorly organized system would turn north Sunday.
Forecasters said East Coast residents from the middle of Florida to North Carolina should monitor progress of the system.
″If it stays close to the coast it’s going to be difficult for it to become better organized than it is now,″ National Hurricane Center forecaster Gil Clark said. ″The biggest threat is over the eastern Bahamas, where they have these squalls.″
The hurricane center canceled a tropical storm watch for the Bahamas late Saturday, and rain was expected to taper off overnight.
Early Sunday, the system was 40 miles east of Palm Beach, moving to the northwest at 10 to 15 mph. It was expected to turn to the north over the next 12 to 24 hours. Maximum sustained winds in the depression were near 35 mph.
″It never has been organized,″ Clark said. ″It’s kind of lopsided - all the (bad) weather’s on the east side. We’re not getting anything on the west side. We don’t know why. Sometimes that happens.″
The depression caused at least three deaths and forced hundreds of evacuations due to swollen rivers and mudslides as it moved across the northern edge of the Caribbean on Friday. No injuries or flooding were reported Saturday.
Up to 5 inches of rain was expected in the Bahamas as the depression, the seventh of the 1988 Atlantic Ocean hurricane season, crossed the islands.
″It’s pretty miserable over here,″ said Roger Carron, co-owner of The Tribune in Nassau. ″We’re having a lot of rain. It’s across to Andros. In other words, the whole country seems to be blanketed.″
In Cuba, the official news agency La Prensa said Friday that civil defense authorities in four eastern provinces moved thousands of people to higher ground.
The depression, which began forming last Sunday in the central Atlantic, dumped 6.6 inches of rain on Puerto Rico in a 24-hour period ending Thursday and then dropped 5 inches more on the Dominican Republic.
Two men and a 12-year-old boy were killed in Puerto Rico in two separate accidents Wednesday, and more than 100 homes around the island were damaged by flooding, Civil Defense officials in Puerto Rico reported. They also reported mudslides and damaged highways and bridges.
If the lopsided depression should attain tropical-storm strength, it would be called Chris. Two other tropical storms have developed during the season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, but no hurricanes.
Depressions are upgraded to tropical storms and named when their maximum sustained winds reach 39 mph, and become hurricanes when maximum sustained winds hit 74 mph.