Puerto Rico to close schools as Tropical Storm Karen threatens heavy flooding

Posted at 3:50 PM, Sep 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-23 15:50:15-04

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico’s governor announced Monday that she was canceling classes and closing public agencies as Tropical Storm Karen approaches the U.S. territory and threatens to unleash heavy flooding in the island’s eastern region.

Gov. Wanda Vázquez activated the National Guard and urged people in flood-prone areas to seek shelter.

At 2 p.m. EDT, Karen was located 155 miles (250 kilometers) south of St. Croix and moving north-northwest at 12 mph (19 kph) with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph).

Roberto Garcia, meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service’s San Juan office, said between 2 to 4 inches (5-10 centimeters) of rain is expected with up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) in isolated areas. He added that some towns in the eastern part of Puerto Rico will likely be hit with moderate to serious flooding, especially those next to mountains.

“They will be greatly affected,” he said.

The island is still recovering from Hurricane Maria, which hit as a Category 4 storm two years ago and is estimated to have caused more than $100 billion in damage. More than 25,000 homes still have a blue tarp for a roof and the electric grid remains unstable.

“It’s a reality that we might have power outages,” Vázquez said.

A tropical storm warning was issued for Puerto Rico, the neighboring islands of Vieques and Culebra, and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. Schools and government offices also will be closed in those islands.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Lorenzo formed over the far eastern Atlantic, though it was projected to curve away from land. It was centered about 255 miles (410 kilometers) south of the southernmost Cape Verde Islands and had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph). It was heading west at 18 mph (30 kph).

Further west, Tropical Storm Jerry was moving toward the north-northwest and was projected to pass north of Bermuda by Wednesday morning.

It was located about 345 miles (550 kilometers) southwest of Bermuda and had sustained winds of 65 mph (100 kph).