Laura drenches Jamaica

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The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) had advised that Laura would be passing north of Jamaica yesterday and that the Meteorological Service of Jamaica had issued a flash flood watch for low-lying and flood-prone areas of all parishes, effective until 8:00 pm today.

“There is a strong possibility for increased rainfall and high wind gust for the eastern and southern parishes, notably Portland, St Thomas, Kingston and St Andrew, St Catherine, Clarendon, Manchester, St Elizabeth, and Westmoreland,” the ODPEM said in a news release.

Laura — one of two tropical storms that marched across the Caribbean on Saturday as potentially historic threats to the US Gulf Coast — also dumped rain on Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Hispaniola. The other storm, named Marco, swept into the gulf through the gap between Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and Cuba.

Laura and Marco are both projected to approach Louisiana’s coast at or close to hurricane force just two days apart in the next several days.

A hurricane watch was issued for the New Orleans metro area, which was pummelled by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.

Two hurricanes have never appeared in the Gulf of Mexico at the same time, according to records going back to at least 1900, said Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach. The last time two tropical storms were in the Gulf together was in 1959, he said.

Laura flung rain across Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands on Saturday and knocked out water service Saturday night as it whipped at the Dominican Republic and Haiti. It was predicted to move over Cuba yesterday on its westward course to the gulf.

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