Hurricane watch issued for Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands

Miami, USA — A hurricane watch was issued for Puerto Rico, Vieques and Culebra, and the British and US Virgin Islands as Tropical Storm Gonzalo moved through the Leeward Islands on Monday, with rain bands already affecting Guadeloupe, Antigua and Barbuda early Monday morning.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for Guadeloupe, Desirade, Les Saintes, Marie Galante, St Martin, St Barthelemy, St Marten, Saba, St Eustatius, Barbuda, Antigua, Anguilla, St Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra, US Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.

Public schools and government offices in St Kitts and Nevis were ordered closed on Monday.

According to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, at 5:00 am EDT on Monday, the centre of Gonzalo was located about 65 miles east-southeast of Antigua and about 50 miles northeast of Guadeloupe, moving toward the west near 10 mph. A turn toward the west-northwest is forecast on Monday, followed by a turn toward the northwest by Monday night.

On the forecast track, the centre of Gonzalo will move across the Leeward Islands on Monday and near or over the Virgin Islands on Monday night. Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 60 mph, with higher gusts. Some additional strengthening is expected during the next 48 hours and Gonzalo is forecast to become a hurricane Monday night or Tuesday.

Tropical storm conditions will spread over portions of the warning area in the Leeward Islands on Monday. Hurricane conditions are possible within the hurricane watch area Monday night and early Tuesday, with tropical storm conditions expected by Monday evening.

Gonzalo is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 4 to 8 inches across the Leeward Islands, British and US Virgin Islands and eastern Puerto Rico, with isolated maximum totals of 12 inches possible.

Swells generated by Gonzalo will affect the Leeward Islands from Dominica northward on Monday. Swells will reach the US and British Virgin Islands by Monday afternoon. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

If Gonzalo keeps to the forecast track, the system may impact Bermuda by the weekend, just one week after a brush with Tropical Storm Fay, which lashed the island with heavy rain and gusting winds, downing trees and utility poles with maximum sustained winds near 70 mph and knocking out power for thousands of residents.

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