Tropical Storm Beryl weakens further as depression off Carolina coast strengthens

Tropical Storm Beryl continues to weaken and remains disorganized as it moves across the Atlantic. It was on a path Saturday that would carry it over the Lesser Antilles at the end of the weekend and into the eastern Caribbean, bringing a new threat to islands still rebuilding from last year’s storms.

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT:

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…
* Dominica
* Guadeloupe

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for…
* Barbados
* St. Lucia
* Martinique, St. Martin, and St. Barthelemy
* Saba and St. Eustatius
* St. Maarten

Beryl formed Friday and was a Category 1 storm late in the day. At 11 p.m. Saturday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said Beryl weakened to a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph. It was centered 495 miles east-southeast of the Lesser Antilles and was moving west-northwest.

11:00 PM, Sat. Jul 7
Location: 13.1°N 54.3°W
Moving: WNW at 18 mph
Min pressure: 1005 mb
Max sustained: 45 mph

“People have to remain alert,” said Gabriel Lojero, a forecaster for the National Weather Service in San Juan. “The forecast could change for the better or worse.”

Beryl was a compact storm, with winds extending out about 10 miles from its center. Forecasters said the storm probably would dissipate once it moved south of Haiti and the Dominican Republic on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello declared a state of emergency for the island and suspended work for Monday.

Rossello told reporters the island would probably experience power outages, given that its electricity grid has become more vulnerable since Hurricane Maria, which caused damage estimated at more than $100 billion. He said, however, that the recovery should be quicker since there are more power restoration crews and more equipment on the island now.

The governor urged people without sturdy roofs to move to one of the 424 shelters that the government planned to open across the island. He recently noted that some 60,000 people still have only tarps for roofs.

“There are a lot of Puerto Ricans who are in a vulnerable position,” Rossello said. “We are keeping an eye on this minute by minute. It is not the moment to panic, but it’s the moment to prepare.”

Puerto Rico Health Secretary Rafael Rodriguez urged all those with serious health conditions, including diabetics, to seek shelter at health facilities, which have generators.

Meanwhile, a tropical depression formed in the Atlantic well off the North Carolina coast, but forecasters said it wasn’t expected to pose any threat to land.

At 11 p.m. EDT, the storm was stationary and centered about 160 miles south-southeast of Cape Hatteras with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph. It is forecast to become a tropical storm late Saturday or Sunday.

Author: DANICA COTO / AP
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