Skip to main content

Tropical Storm Rafael heads toward Bermuda

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 9:42 PM EDT, Sun October 14, 2012
On Bay Road in Basseterre, St. Kitts, two taxis were washed down to the shoreline when they tried to cross the flooded road.
On Bay Road in Basseterre, St. Kitts, two taxis were washed down to the shoreline when they tried to cross the flooded road.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Bermudan officials issue a tropical storm watch
  • Hurricane center: Rainfall could cause "life-threatening flash floods and mudslides"
  • The tropical storm could become a hurricane by Monday
  • Efforts to find three passengers on a downed plane continue despite the weather

(CNN) -- Tropical Storm Rafael unleashed heavy rain and powerful gusts on the Leeward Islands on Sunday and could turn into a hurricane by Monday, forecasters said.

With sustained winds of 60 mph, Rafael could get even stronger as it bears down on several islands popular with tourists.

As of 5 p.m. ET, Rafael was centered about 185 miles (298 kilometers) northeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said. The storm was moving north-northwest at 10 mph (16 kph) and was expected to turn northward by Monday.

A projection map shows Rafael headed toward Bermuda later this week.

Officials there issued a tropical storm watch Sunday and told residents that they expected the storm to affect the British territory on Tuesday.

While the National Hurricane Center predicted Rafael will stay well to the east of the Bahamas through Monday, it did warn of life-threatening surf conditions and rip currents on the eastward-facing beaches of the Bahamas over the next few days.

Tropical storm warnings that had been in effect for the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, St. Martin, Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts and Guadeloupe were discontinued Sunday morning.

College Street, which runs through the middle of Basseterre, St. Kitts, is filled with floodwaters.
College Street, which runs through the middle of Basseterre, St. Kitts, is filled with floodwaters.
Basseterre flooding has cut off the east side of the city from the west side.
Basseterre flooding has cut off the east side of the city from the west side.

Forecasters expect Rafael to leave between 4 to 6 inches of rain over the Lesser Antilles and Virgin Islands, with some pockets getting as much as 10 inches.

"These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides, especially in areas of mountainous terrain," the hurricane center said.

The storm could hamper rescue efforts for two men and one woman whose small aircraft crashed Saturday morning about six nautical miles (seven miles) south of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Coast Guard spokesman Ricardo Castrodad said. They were aboard a twin-engine Piper PA-23 that left St. Croix destined for St. Thomas, according to Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen.

Rescue crews from the Coast Guard and U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Natural Resources saved one female passenger, Valerie Jackson, who told them three others were still unaccounted for.

A Coast Guard cutter ship, two helicopters and a fixed-wing aircraft have been dispatched from Puerto Rico for the search, Castrodad said.

CNN's Chandler Friedman contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:26 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
updated 7:09 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
updated 1:01 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
updated 10:48 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
updated 12:07 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
updated 7:15 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
updated 7:06 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
updated 7:37 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
updated 2:18 AM EST, Fri February 8, 2013
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
ADVERTISEMENT