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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Tropical Storm Pilar kills at least 1 in El Salvador

By Mike Ives

Heavy rains linked to Tropical Storm Pilar have killed at least one person in El Salvador, an official there said early Wednesday, as parts of Central America faced heavy flooding.

The Associated Press and local news media attributed reports of at least two deaths in El Salvador to officials from the country’s civil defense office. A spokesperson for that office said by telephone early Wednesday that he could only immediately confirm one death.

El Salvador’s National Police described the storm on social media late Tuesday as a “national emergency,” and the civil protection office posted photos overnight that showed emergency personnel working to clear downed trees in the dark.

Pilar had maximum sustained winds of 60 mph early Wednesday, 14 miles shy of hurricane strength, the National Hurricane Center of the United States said in an advisory. Its center was about 120 miles south-southwest of San Salvador, the Salvadoran capital, and 225 miles west of Managua, the capital of Nicaragua.

Tropical storm watches are in effect for the Pacific coasts of Nicaragua and Honduras. That means tropical storm conditions are possible within the next 12-24 hours. The U.S. Hurricane Center said that the storm was drifting north and expected to begin moving west, farther into the Pacific Ocean, on Wednesday.

But Pilar was still forecast to produce 5-10 inches of rain, and up to 15 inches in some areas, through Wednesday in portions of El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras and Costa Rica, the center said. It also warned of possible flooding in cities, and mudslides at higher elevations.

Hurricanes have become more destructive over time, in no small part because of the influences of a warming planet. Climate change is producing more powerful storms, and they dump more water because of heavier rainfall and a tendency to dawdle and meander; rising seas and slower storms can make for higher and more destructive storm surges.

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