ROSEAU, Dominica, Saturday July 7, 2018 – The Dominica government today announced that a state of emergency would be declared tomorrow, even as what was Hurricane Beryl weakened to a tropical storm on its approach to the Eastern Caribbean.
And though it is forecast to lose even more strength over the next two days, Beryl is expected to dump heavy rains over the islands of the Lesser Antilles over the next couple of days. Dominica and Guadeloupe are under a tropical storm warning, while a tropical storm watch is in effect for Barbados, St Lucia, Martinique, St Maarten, St Martin, St Barthelemy, Saba and St Eustatius.
Dominica, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria in September 2017 and is still recovering from that Category 5 storm, had been under a hurricane watch since Friday when Beryl became a hurricane. But earlier today, that was replaced by a tropical storm warning.
Despite this, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit announced at a press conference that Cabinet had decided to declare a state of emergency and impose a curfew tomorrow as preparations intensify for possible landfall between tomorrow and Monday.
He urged citizens not to let their guard down.
“We must not become complacent,” Skerrit said, recalling that in 2015, Tropical Storm Erika wrought tremendous destruction on the country.
The state of emergency and curfew are being implemented to ensure there is no repeat of the lawlessness and looting of businesses that occurred after Hurricane Maria.
“…The state will take proactive and preemptive measures to ensure that that which happened after Maria that there will not be even one incident of it,” Skerrit said.
“Anybody – it could be a priest, it could be a pastor, it could be an employee of the state – if you have no business being out during the curfew hours, you will be picked up,” he added, while Chief of Police Daniel Carbon told business owners that it is their “fundamental right” to secure their properties and businesses.
The Dominica Meteorological Service has indicated that Tropical Storm Beryl is likely to start affecting the island from about midday tomorrow into Monday.
At 8 p.m., Tropical Storm Beryl, with maximum sustained winds now reduced to 50 miles per hour, was about 550 miles east southeast of the Lesser Antilles and moving towards the west northwest at 17 miles per hour.
The National Hurricane Centre (NHC) in Miami said a west-northwestward motion with an increase in forward speed was expected during the next few days and, on the forecast track, the centre of Beryl would approach the Lesser Antilles through the day tomorrow, cross the island chain tomorrow night, and move south of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Monday.
Weakening is forecast during that period, and the NHC said Beryl is likely to become a depression by the time it reaches the eastern Caribbean Sea, if not sooner.
“The system could degenerate into an open trough by the time it reaches the central Caribbean Sea and Hispaniola Monday night,” it said.
But the forecasters also noted that due to Beryl’s very small size, there is greater than usual uncertainty about its current intensity, and confidence in the intensity forecast is also lower than normal.
Regardless of Beryl’s development, the NHC said there is a chance of some islands in the Lesser Antilles receiving direct impacts from wind and rainfall, where tropical storm warnings and watches remain in effect. It said gusty winds and locally heavy rainfall will also be possible across the remainder of the Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico through early next week.
Tropical storm conditions are expected in Dominica and Guadeloupe tomorrow night, and in the watch areas of the Lesser Antilles by late tomorrow or Monday. And Beryl is expected to produce total rain accumulations of two to four inches through Monday across the southern Leeward and northern Windward Islands. Across the remainder of the Leeward and Windward Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico, rainfall amounts of one to two inches with locally higher amounts are expected, the NHC added.