Posted: Wednesday, October 4, 2023. 8:24 pm CST.
By Horace Palacio: Tropical Storm Philippe wreaked havoc in parts of the Caribbean this week, particularly impacting the U.S. and British Virgin Islands with heavy rains and strong winds. The storm, which originated in the northeast Caribbean, is now en route towards Bermuda and is expected to later reach New England and Atlantic Canada.
According to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, on Wednesday, Philippe was situated approximately 295 miles (475 kilometers) to the north of St. Thomas. The storm boasted wind speeds of up to 40 mph (55 kph) and was advancing northward at a rate of 12 mph (19 kph).
Earlier in the week, Philippe had made landfall in Barbuda on Monday evening. By early Tuesday, neighboring Antigua experienced a devastating fire during the storm, destroying at least 10 businesses at the Antigua Yacht Club Marina & Resort. The cause of the fire is under investigation, with reports indicating significant lightning activity during the storm. Despite the setback, the marina continues its operations.
The British and U.S. Virgin Islands took preventive measures, closing schools in response to the storm. Several areas, including St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John, experienced multiple power outages due to the storm’s heavy rainfall and lightning strikes. Montserrat faced similar challenges, with power interruptions, fallen trees, and downed power lines. Consequently, schools, government offices, and several businesses on the island remained shut.
Further north, schools in St. Martin and St. Barts also remained closed on Wednesday. Authorities in these French Caribbean territories issued a ban on ocean swimming and other nautical activities until Thursday, emphasizing public safety.
Forecasters have predicted that the U.S. and British Virgin Islands could experience rainfall accumulations of up to 12 inches (30 centimeters), with Puerto Rico’s northeast and southeast regions receiving up to four inches (10 centimeters).
Bermuda is now on high alert with a tropical storm watch issued in anticipation of Philippe’s arrival. The storm is set to approach Bermuda by late Thursday or Friday and may intensify slightly over the coming days. However, the National Hurricane Center states, “The intensity forecast remains murky.”
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