TS Chris to become hurricane off NC coast

Rain and storm winds blowing trees

Rain and storm winds blowing trees Blend Images REB Images Getty Images

Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are bracing for heavy rains and strong winds as remnants of the new season's first hurricane provide an initial test of how far they've recovered from last year's devastating storms.

About 7,000 houses and businesses in Puerto Rico still lack power after Maria leveled an electricity grid that was ill-maintained before the storm.

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By 2 a.m. Friday, it is expected to weaken back to a tropical storm off the coast of Nova Scotia, according to NWS meteorologist Derek Schroeter. Gov. Ricardo Rossello urged people without sturdy roofs to move in with relatives or to one of 24 government shelters.

Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, in a public address, said Beryl could change track and intensity and therefore people should remain on alert.

Meteorologist Marshall Alexander told The Associated Press that officials were anxious about those living with tarps on their roofs after Maria slammed into Dominica as a Category 5 storm previous year, killing dozens of people. Puerto Rico, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria in September, remains under a state of emergency.

The only storm accounted for this season before Beryl is Alberto, a subtropical system that formed on May 25th in the Caribbean Sea and made landfall a few days later in Laguna Beach, Florida. Its maximum sustained wind speeds were at 45 miles per hour.

Tropical storm force winds extended outward up to 70 miles from the center of the storm on Monday.Tropical storms can have winds reaching 73 mph.

In an advisory, the NHC said: "Strengthening is expected during the next couple of days, and Chris is forecast to become a hurricane late today or tonight".

Satellite photo shows the remnant of Beryl, the last white mass of clouds slightly up and right of center, passing into the Caribbean early Monday morning. Other weather systems, the presence of dry air near the storm, and ocean water temperatures all have an impact.

Chris remains mostly stationary well east of the SC coast, centered roughly 200 miles to the south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Forecasters expect it will gain hurricane strength before moving up Gulfstream waters on a path that could cause life-threatening surf on East Coast beaches this week.

Tropical Storm Chris continued to meander just off the Carolina coast on Monday, the hurricane center said.

By Tuesday, the storm is forecast to degenerate but could still produce some gusty winds and heavy rain over Puerto Rico and Hispaniola.

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