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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Puerto Rico vigilant as tropical depression approaches

With the approach of Tropical Depression Seven, tropical storm watches could be necessary for some northern Caribbean islands, including Puerto Rico, in the coming days, the National Hurricane Center said Wednesday.

By The Star Staff

Tropical Depression Seven, which formed earlier this week in the Atlantic, is expected to pass over the Leeward Islands on Friday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The depression would bring heavy rain and possible wind impacts. Tropical storm watches could be necessary for some islands, including Puerto Rico, in the coming days.

The system could move near or over portions of the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Hispaniola over the weekend and early next week, potentially bringing heavy rain and wind impacts to those areas.

The center of Tropical Depression Seven was located near latitude 16.6 North and longitude 49.6 West early Wednesday.

The system was moving westward at about 14 miles per hour, and that general motion is expected to continue over the next several days. On the forecast track, the system’s center is expected to move through the Leeward Islands by Friday night and be near the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico this weekend.

Maximum sustained winds are expected to be around 35 mph with higher gusts.

At the height of hurricane season and with several weather events expected, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials on Wednesday encouraged residents of Puerto Rico to prepare their families and property. Taking timely preparedness measures improves response and recovery processes for these events and other incidents, they said.

“We want to remind everyone in our communities that taking all necessary steps and having emergency plans in place is the right thing to do at this time,” said Orlando Olivera, FEMA’s Caribbean area office coordinator in Puerto Rico, in a press release.

Before a weather event, citizens should take steps to prevent loss of life and property, making sure to have evacuation and communication plans with family members, an updated emergency supply kit, and to have assessed flood insurance needs, Olivera added.

“Familiarize yourself with emergency evacuation zones, so you know where to go,” the FEMA communication said. “If you live in an area susceptible to landslides or flooding, leave early and find the nearest shelter.”

“At this point, you should have a family plan that includes pets. Review how you will reunite your family and loved ones and agree to contact each other in an emergency,” FEMA said. “Also, remember to stay informed using trusted sources of information, such as notifications from the local emergency management office, local news, and weather advisories. Follow the directions of local officials, and stay safe.”

Later on Wednesday, the U.S. Coast Guard set a Port WHISKY Condition for the seaports of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands due to the possibility of hurricane force winds (winds in excess of 39 miles per hour) from Tropical Depression Seven reaching the islands within 48 hours.

During Port Condition WHISKY, port facilities are currently open to all commercial traffic and all transfer operations may continue as long as WHISKY remains in effect.

All transoceanic commercial vessels of 500 gross tons or more must make plans to depart port no later than the time the YANKEE Port Condition is established. Vessels wishing to remain in port must submit a request to the Captain of the Port before the port condition X-RAY is established.

The Captain of the Coast Guard anticipates establishing Port Condition X-RAY at 8 a.m. today for ports in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The dates and times are subject to change based on future forecasts.

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