Tropical storm Isaac nears Dominican Republic, gaining strength (+video)
Tropical storm Isaac could be a hurricane by later Thursday, and arrive in Florida by Monday, the start of the GOP convention. Caribbean nations brace for the arrival of tropical storm Isaac.
(Page 2 of 2)
In the U.S. Virgin Islands, along the harbor in St. Croix's historic town of Christiansted, piers normally lined with pleasure boats were empty Wednesday. Business owners stacked sandbags around the doorways of pastel-colored buildings.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Extreme weather 2012
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Schools and government offices in St. Croix were ordered to remain closed Thursday. St. Kitts had announced similar closures Wednesday.
With the storm expected to pass just south of Puerto Rico on Thursday, Gov. Luis Fortuno declared a state of emergency for the U.S. territory and activated the National Guard. He also canceled classes and closed government agencies. Federal officials closed the popular San Felipe del Morro castle in Old San Juan.
Authorities in Puerto Rico reported that a 75-year-old woman died Wednesday in the northern city of Bayamon when she fell from a second-floor balcony while filling a barrel with water in preparation for the storm.
The U.S. Coast Guard closed all ports in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to incoming commercial ships and warned that all commercial vessels bigger than 200 gross tons must leave or obtain permission to remain in port.
Downpours drenched the French island of Guadeloupe on Wednesday, said local chief meteorologist Norbert Aouizerats. Officials warned of swollen rivers and flooding in Martinique, where authorities urged people in low-lying areas to evacuate.
In the Dominican Republic, authorities banned boats from entering its waters and warned of heavy rains from Thursday through Saturday.
Liat airline and American Eagle canceled flights to islands including Dominica, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guadeloupe and Martinique.
On the island of Vieques, just east of Puerto Rico, people prepared for the government to temporarily shut off power.
Glenn Curry, an owner of Bananas Guesthouse, said he closed the restaurant and would move guests to a higher floor.
"I don't think this is going to be a major storm, but it's going to be noisy and unpleasant for a few hours," he said.
In the meantime, another tropical depression was moving across the Atlantic. The depression had maximum sustained winds near 35 mph (55 kph) early Thursday and was expected to become a tropical storm later Thursday or on Friday. The depression was centered about 1,110 miles (1,790 kilometers) west of the Cape Verde Islands and moving west-northwest near 16 mph (26 kph).
Associated Press writers Jason Bronis in Christiansted, St. Croix; Danica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico; David McFadden in Kingston, Jamaica; Rodolphe Lamy in Fort-de-France, Martinique, contributed to this report.