Tropical Depression Karen regains strength as it churns toward Puerto Rico
Tropical Depression Karen, which weakened late Monday, was regaining its might and could again become a tropical storm as it threatens to come ashore in Puerto Rico later Tuesday, bringing severe winds and flooding rains, forecasters said.
Packing winds of 35 mph (55 kph), Karen is expected to dump 2-4 inches of rain on the U.S. island territory with some areas getting upwards of 8 inches (20.3 cm), the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC), said in an advisory.
"There are flash flood watches and warnings across Puerto Rico," said Marc Chenard, a forecaster with the National Weather Service (NWS).
"Eastern and southern Puerto Rico will be the hardest hit areas, especially the hills and mountainous areas. There's a risk of serious mudslides and floods."
Tropical-storm force wind gusts are expected to hit the island as the storm is set to move near or over land by the afternoon, the NHC said.
Tropical storm warnings remained in effect for Puerto Rico, as well as the adjacent U.S. and British Virgin Islands for the next 24 hours.
Karen, the 11th named storm of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season, formed on Sunday afternoon east of the Lesser Antilles.
Puerto Rico, beset with financial woes and political turmoil, was spared a potential new disaster last month when Hurricane Dorian skirted past the island before laying waste to the northern Bahamas.
Two years ago, Puerto Rico was still recovering from Hurricane Irma when it took a direct hit from Hurricane Maria, which obliterated large swaths of the territory and left much of the island without electricity for months. Some 3,000 people perished in that storm, the deadliest in the island's history.
To the north of Karen, a separate Atlantic tropical storm named Jerry was on track to skirt by Bermuda Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. Jerry was packing maximum sustained winds of 65 mph (100 kph) but was also expected to gradually weaken.
Yet a third tropical storm, Lorenzo, formed on Monday in the far eastern Atlantic near the Cape Verde Islands, off Africa. Lorenzo was forecast to reach hurricane strength by Tuesday night as it churned across the ocean but posed no immediate threat to land, the NHC said.