MIAMI (AP) _ Tropical Storm Danielle weakened to a depression Tuesday as it sputtered toward the central Caribbean Sea, skirting the cooler waters off South America's north coast, forecasters said.

''The projected track is across the middle of the Caribbean. If the storm holds together, we'll have landfall somewhere, but for the next day or two we don't anticipate landfall,'' said Hal Gerrish of the National Hurricane Center in Coral Gables.

At 10:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday, remnants of the 1986 Atlantic hurricane season's fourth named storm were centered about 300 miles southeast of Kingston, Jamaica.

The swirling storm, with highest sustained winds gradually dropping from a high of 63 mph Monday to near 35 mph by midafternoon Tuesday, was getting pushed almost due west at 20 mph by a briskly moving high-pressure system, Gerrish said.

The Jamaican government issued a storm watch Tuesday for the island and advised fishermen on the nation's south coast to return to port, but downgraded it to a severe weather watch later in the day.

While the storm was downgraded, forecasters said in an advisory that it could regroup as it moves west over warmer waters.

''Because (Danielle) is closer to the northern coast of South America, it's sputtered,'' Gerrish said. ''We expect that steering to prevail for the next day or two, but after that there are a number of scenarios and I wouldn't want to speculate.''

On Monday, the storm lashed the island nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, closing schools, businesses and government offices and knocking out power across much of the island. Roofs were blown off more than 30 buildings, mostly residential, in the Kingstown area.

The country's only commercial airport, near Kingstown, was closed for most of Monday, and Radio St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the lone, state-owned radio station on the island, was knocked off the air.

Several ships were washed ashore by high waves, including the Barbados Coast Guard vessel George Fergusson, which was forced onto a reef in the Southern Grenadines, authorities said. The 10-man crew escaped unhurt.

There were no reports of serious injuries.

Wednesday marked the peak of the average hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. September traditionally brings the most storms because the Atlantic Ocean is warmest, fueling foul-weather systems.

''The main thing we have to emphasize is we are in the height of the hurricane season,'' said Bob Sheets, the deputy director of the hurricane center. ''Anytime you have a storm located in the Southeast at this time of year you have to pay attention to it. It's just that time of year.''

Danielle was born off the African coast over Cape Verde about Sept. 1, and dumped showers as it moved past Caribbean islands near the Lesser Antilles.

Tropical depressions become named storms when their sustained winds reach 39 mph, and are hurricanes if winds reach 74 mph.

Earlier this season, Tropical Storm Andrew died in the Atlantic before hitting land, Hurricane Bonnie swept through Louisiana and Texas, leaving three dead, and Hurricane Charley sideswiped North Carolina's Outer Banks and the mid-Atlantic coast, causing at least five deaths before it moved back out to sea.