First hurricane of the season develops
Hurricane Irene is passing over Puerto Rico after lashing the Leeward Islands and is headed for the northern coastal regions of the Dominican Republic.
FLORIDA, United States, Monday August 22, 2011 – What was Tropical Storm Irene when it passed the Leeward Islands over the weekend has now developed into the 2011 Atlantic season’s first hurricane that’s now heading for the north coast of the Dominican Republic.
After lashing the Leewards with heavy rains and strong winds, forcing the closure of airports in St. Kitts and the British Virgin Islands, Irene strengthened over Puerto Rico early this morning to develop into a Category One hurricane carrying maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour, with potential to get even stronger over the next two days. At 5 am, Irene was located about 25 miles west of Puerto Rico’s capital, San Juan and 125 miles east of Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.
Tropical storm conditions are already being felt in the Virgin Islands and eastern Puerto Rico and will continue to spread across Puerto Rico this morning.
The National Hurricane Centre (NHC) in Miami says that on its forecast track – moving west-northwest near 12 miles per hour – Hurricane Irene will move off the north coast of Puerto Rico later this morning and move near or over the northern coastal regions of the Dominican Republic.
“Tropical storm conditions will reach the Dominican Republic by this afternoon. Hurricane conditions are expected over Puerto Rico this morning and over the northern portions of the Dominican Republic this afternoon and evening,” the NHC said.
“Tropical storm conditions are expected to reach the southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands Tuesday and are possible in the central Bahamas by late Tuesday. Hurricane conditions are possible in the central Bahamas by Tuesday night.”
As a result, a hurricane warning is in effect for Puerto Rico and the north coast of the Dominican Republic from the Haiti border, eastward to Cabo Engano. A hurricane watch was discontinued for the U.S. Virgin Islands but remains in effect for the north coast of Haiti from Le Mole St. Nicholas eastward to the Dominican Republic border and Central Bahamas.
The U.S. and British Virgin Islands, the south coast of the Dominican Republic from south of Cabo Engano westward to the Haiti border, all of Haiti and the southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands are under tropical storm warning.
Irene is expected to produce up to 10 inches of rain across Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, the southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands. The NHC said that isolated maximum amounts could be as much as 20 inches.