The National Hurricane Center said Thursday that Tropical Storm Isaiah, which is hitting the Dominican Republic along its projected route to the east coast of the United States, is likely to become a hurricane on Friday. The storm has already unleashed small landslides and caused widespread flooding and power outages in Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from previous hurricanes and earthquakes.
A maximum storm of 60 mph also felled trees and some telephone and electric cables throughout the island.
The southern region of Puerto Rico, which has so far been shaken by daily upheavals, has been particularly hard hit. Guanica Mayor Santos Seda told the Associated Press that he was receiving reports of destroyed trees and flooded neighborhoods where earthquake-damaged houses still stand.
“People̵7;s emotional state is deteriorating day by day,” he said, adding that crews would hang to assess the damage as soon as the weather cleared.
Isaiah was centered about 250 miles southeast of the southeastern Bahamas until Thursday afternoon, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. It was moving northwest at 20 mph, and its center is expected to hit the southeastern Bahamas by late Thursday night.
Isaias had already cut down trees in the Dominican Republic as government officials in some impoverished neighborhoods used loudspeakers to urge people to evacuate on the eve of the worst storm. Police have also arrested several surfers in the capital, Santo Domingo, on charges of violating state storm warnings.
According to government officials, Isaias cut off energy for more than 400,000 customers through Puerto Rico and left about 150,000 customers without water. Crews opened the gates of one dam, which had such a low water level last month, that officials cut service a day for 140,000 customers. Shortages have also been reported in neighboring Virgin Islands.
Minor damage was reported elsewhere in Puerto Rico, where tens of thousands of people still use cottages as roofs over homes damaged by Hurricane Maria in September 2017.
Jose Pagan, 22, who lives in the eastern mountain town of Juncos, said his strength had waned by dawn.
“I didn’t think it would be so strong,” he said of the storm, adding that his house was slightly flooded. “It’s a very difficult experience because it reminds us of Mary.”
Tropical storm warnings have been issued for parts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the Turks and Caicos Islands, as well as for the southeastern, central and northwestern Bahamas. A tropical storm clock has been issued for parts of Florida’s east coast.
Isaiah is expected to bring 4-8 inches of rain through Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and northern Haiti, with separate maximum amounts of 10 inches.
In the Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos Islands, you can see 4 to 8 inches of rain, while in Cuba you can see 1 to 2 inches, with individual maximum amounts of 4 inches.
“These amounts of precipitation will lead to life-threatening outbreaks and downpours, as well as flooding of rivers,” the hurricane center warned.
According to University of Colorado hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach, Isaiah is the earliest ninth Atlantic storm. Irina’s previous record on August 7, 2005, Klotzbach tweeted.
So far this year, Cristobal, Daniel, Edward, Faye, Gert and Hannah were also the oldest Atlantic storms in alphabetical order.