Bahamas braces as newly formed Hurricane Isaias bears down | News | DW | 31.07.2020
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Bahamas braces as newly formed Hurricane Isaias bears down

US forecasters have upgraded tropical storm Isaias to a Category 1 hurricane. The weather system is headed for the Bahamas and the US after unleashing floods and landslides in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

Emergency workers clear fallen trees in the Dominican Republic

Emergency workers clear trees toppled by Tropical Storm Isaias in the Dominican Republic

Storm Isaias strengthened into a hurricane on Friday as it moved towards the Bahamas and the US East Coast, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) announced on Twitter.

The Miami-based agency said the hurricane was packing maximum sustained winds of 130 kilometers (80 miles) per hour as it tracked northwest across the Atlantic Ocean at a speed of around 30 kph (18 mph).

Hurricane warnings were in place for the northwestern, central and southern Bahamas, where Isaias was expected to make landfall on Friday before reaching Florida's coast on Saturday. The southern US state is currently grappling with one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the US, with more than 6,500 deaths from the disease.

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How do tropical storms form?

No evacuations have been ordered yet in Florida or the Bahamas. But authorities have warned people to prepare for heavy rains, flooding and storm surges.

Dorian's devastation

Parts of the Bahamas are still recovering from last year's Hurricane Dorian, a Category 5 storm that killed at least 70 people, with more than 280 still missing.  

Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis announced late Thursday that he was relaxing a coronavirus lockdown due to the impending storm, but that an overnight curfew would apply from Friday. He said supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations and hardware stores would be allowed to stay open as long as weather permitted.

"These are especially difficult days,'' he said during an online news conference. "We need at this time the spirit of love and unity.''

Before it was upgraded to a hurricane, Tropical Storm Isaias caused power outages, toppled trees and triggered flooding and landslides across the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico on Thursday. At least one person was killed in the Dominican Republic, while hundreds of thousands of people were without power and water in Puerto Rico.

nm/sms (AFP, AP)

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