Tropical Storm Chantal Weakens on Path to Dominican Republic

Tropical Storm Chantal weakened and became less organized in the Caribbean Sea on a path that will take it over the Dominican Republic and Haiti later today, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

Chantal, with its top winds falling to 45 miles (75 kilometers) per hour from 50 mph earlier, was about 140 miles south of Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic’s capital, the Miami-based center said in an advisory before 5 a.m. New York time. The storm was moving west-northwest at 29 mph and “may be degenerating into a tropical wave,” the center said.

Tropical storms and flooding are among the greatest natural threats to the Dominican Republic, according to a report by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, a consortium of 41 countries including the U.S., and eight international organizations dedicated to reducing the vulnerability of developing countries to natural disasters.

Chantal is forecast to drop 3 to 6 inches (8 to 15 centimeters) of rain over Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the southeastern Bahamas, with some areas possibly receiving as much as 10 inches, the hurricane center said.

Tropical storm warnings are in place for the entire coastline of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, as well as for the Turks and Caicos and the southeastern Bahamas.

High Winds, Rain

A tropical storm watch is in place for the central Bahamas, the center said. A storm warning means high winds, rain and waves will probably hit within 36 hours, while a watch means those conditions are possible.

In Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, ports are open to outbound ships only, the U.S. Coast Guard said in a statement. Vessels greater than 500 gross tons are advised to make for sea.

The official storm track predicts Chantal’s center will be “near or over” Hispaniola today, will reach Cuba tomorrow as a tropical depression and then move toward Florida’s coast.

The Dominican Republic occupies the eastern two-thirds of Hispaniola, while Haiti covers the western end.

(Updates storm location in second paragraph.)
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