Tropical Storm Chris heading toward Turks and Caicos

Published 6:42 pm Friday, August 4, 2006

Tropical Storm Chris was headed for the Turks and Caicos on Friday as it pushed across the eastern Caribbean, scattering rain over Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands but no longer posing a hurricane threat to the region.

“It’s pretty much a skeleton at this point,” said hurricane specialist Jamie Rhome at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

At 5 a.m. EDT, the storm had maximum sustained winds of nearly 40 mph, just above the threshold for a tropical storm. The center of the storm, which was expected to weaken to a tropical depression Friday, was about 45 miles south-southeast of Grand Turk Island in the southwestern Bahamas. It was moving west at about 15 mph, the hurricane center said.

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The storm was expected to pass north of Haiti and the Dominican Republic later Friday.

The Bahamian government upgraded a tropical storm watch to a tropical storm warning in the southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands. The warning included the Acklins, Crooked Island, The Inaguas, Mayaguana and the Ragged Islands.

Tropical storm watches were issued for Long Island and the Exumas in the central Bahamas, and extended from Samana, Dominican Republic, along the northern coast of Haiti to La Mole St. Nicolas.

Authorities said the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico could get up to 5 inches of rain from the system — which could cause flooding and mudslides in some areas. Northern Haiti should also get some rain.

By Thursday afternoon, Puerto Rico’s Fajardo River burst its banks and sent water gushing over a highway, temporarily shutting down the road in the U.S. territory’s northeast coast as the storm moved away from the island.

There were no reports of major damage elsewhere in the Caribbean from the storm, which on Wednesday had threatened to become the first hurricane of the Atlantic season.

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