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Tropical Storm Gonzalo takes aim at Caribbean

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KINGSTON, Jamaica >> Tropical Storm Fay knocked out power to thousands of people in Bermuda before moving out to sea Sunday, just as a new storm raced toward the eastern rim of the Caribbean threatening to become a hurricane.

Tropical Storm Gonzalo was centered roughly 200 miles east of the Leeward Islands early Sunday afternoon and was expected to pick up strength as it moved toward Puerto Rico, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

Tracking west at about 10 mph, forecasters said Gonzalo could reach hurricane strength by the time it reached Puerto Rico’s southern coastline Tuesday morning.

Tropical storm warnings and watches were issued for a number of Caribbean locales, including the French dependency of Guadeloupe, the Dutch Caribbean territory of St. Maarten, as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Gonzalo was expected to move through parts of the Leeward Islands by early Monday, producing 4 inches to 8 inches of rain, with some areas potentially getting soaked with as much as 12 inches (30 centimeters).

Hundreds of miles north of the Caribbean, Fay tracked away from Bermuda and headed over the open Atlantic after lashing the British chain with heavy rain and gusting winds. There were no immediate reports of injuries as Bermuda authorities assessed damage Sunday and discontinued storm watches and warnings.

Fay, which had maximum sustained winds near 70 mph and stronger gusts, disrupted power for more than 27,000 customers of the Bermuda Electric Light Company. The utility is the sole supplier of electricity for the territory of roughly 65,000 inhabitants.

Fay downed trees and utility poles and several roads were blocked across the tiny archipelago, which has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world and enforces strict building codes to ensure that homes can withstand intense weather. Bermuda authorities urged residents not to venture out on the roads.

“The safest thing is for people to remain at home and allow the important work that follows this kind of storm to be done safely,” Acting Premier Trevor Moniz said.

By late Sunday morning, Tropical Storm Fay was centered about 165 miles northeast of Bermuda and moving northeast at almost 24 mph. The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said some fluctuations in intensity were likely during the day, but it was expected to weaken late Sunday.

The storm system’s bands were expected to dump as much as 5 inches of rain during its passage over Bermuda but winds and rains were forecast to diminish over the course of the day. The storm-hardened territory’s weather service warned that Fay was causing hazardous surf on south-facing shores.

It was expected to become a post-tropical cyclone later Sunday and forecasters said a cold front was likely to absorb Fay on Monday.

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