Hurricane Gilbert Heads South Of Hispaniola Toward Jamaica
KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) _ Hurricane Gilbert swept toward Jamaica on Sunday with 100 mph winds and officials issued warnings to residents on the southern coasts of the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba.
The storm ripped the roofs off houses and caused coastal flooding in Puerto Rico. In the Dominican Republic all domestic flights and flights to and from Puerto Rico and Miami were canceled.
Heavy rain and winds lashed the southern zone of the Dominican Republic Sunday night as the hurricane passed south of the Barahona peninsula, officials reported.
Eugenio Cabral, director of the Dominican Civil Defense, said there was some flooding in parts of the capital of Santo Domingo and power outages there and other southern areas but no casualties had been reported.
Jamaican Prime Minister Edward Seaga alerted all government agencies and told a news conference Sunday night: ″Hurricane Gilbert appears to be a real threat and everyone should follow the instructions and hurricane precautions issued by the Office of Disaster Preparedness in order to minimize the danger.″
Jamaica’s National Meteorological Service said if the hurricane continues on its current course effects of the storm would be felt in Jamaica by 6 a.m. EDT Monday.
Ferry service across Kingston Harbor was suspended and commercial flights were canceled.
Outgoing flights from Jamaica’s international airports at Kingston and Montego Bay were being rescheduled but incoming flights continued to arrive Sunday, officials reported.
Cuba’s official Prensa Latina news agency reported a state of alert was declared at midday in the western Cuban provinces of Guantanamo, Holguin, Santiago de Cuba and Granma.
In the report from Havana received in Mexico City, Prensa Latina said civil defense officials were broadcasting bulletins on national radio and television recommending emergency measures and providing information on the storm.
Forecasters said the hurricane was gaining strength as it passed over the ocean and would dump heavy rain on the Dominican Republic and Haiti as it moved south of Hispaniola, the Caribbean island they share, and headed west.
″It’s certainly one of the larger systems we’ve seen in the Caribbean for a long time,″ said Hal Gerrish, forecaster at the National Hurricane Center in Coral Gables, Fla.
The U.S. National Weather Service in Miami said that at 9 p.m. the hurricane’s center was near 16.8 north latitude and and 72.2 west longitude or about 310 miles east of Kingston, It said the storm was moving just north of due west at 15 mph and it was expected to continue that motion for the the next 24 hours.
Maximum sustained winds were near 100 mph, the report said, with tropical- storm force winds extending up to 250 miles to the north and 100 miles to the south.
The hurricane center said small craft in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico should remain in port until winds and seas subside.
Forecasters said the hurricane’s track would take it about 50 miles south of southwestern Haiti.
″The track looks like it will go right over Jamaica, but we can’t say for certain yet,″ Gerrish said.
The forecasters said the Dominican Republic would receive 5 to 10 inches of rain on Sunday, with similar amounts falling in Haiti Sunday night and Monday.
In Santo Domingo, the Civil Defense alerted the nation’s heavily populated southern coast to prepare for high winds, heavy rains and high seas.
Civil Defense Director Eugenio Cabral said residents of the Barahona peninsula should closely follow Gilbert’s movement. An estimated 100,000 people live in the area, including 70,000 in the city of Barahona, 125 miles west of Santo Domingo.
Antonio Cocco Quezada, director of the Dominican Weather Service, said that if the hurricane changes course and starts moving north it would put the south in ″grave danger.″
Hurricane warnings also were issued for the south coast of Haiti and Cuba by their respective governments.
Jamaica’s Ministry of Health said that hospitals throughout the island were discharging all patients who could leave on their own and only keeping the critically ill.
The hospitals also were stocking up on emergency supplies of medicine, blankets, water and food.
Tropical Storm Gilbert formed in the eastern Caribbean and strengthened into a hurricane Saturday night.
″The hurricane passed about 100 miles south of the southwest coast of Puerto Rico″ on Saturday night, Gerrish said. ″They got pretty heavy rain.″
In Puerto Rico, the storm left several homes without roofs, caused coastal flooding and downed power lines and trees along roads and highways in the west and southwestern regions.
Four policemen stationed on Mona Island, between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, were stranded as a result of the poor weather conditions.
″We are in constant contact with them by radio and they are in good condition,″ said a police official in Mayaguez in western Puerto Rico.
Three people were injured in Guayanilla, Puerto Rico, when a tree fell on top of their vehicle as they traveled along Route 97 shortly after midnight Saturday, police reported.