Tropical Storm Rafael has now becomes a Category 1 hurricane with over 85 mph winds and has reached the island of Bermuda, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. As Rafael grew into a hurricane, residents and officials of Bermuda are expecting it to pass by tomorrow.
Bringing strong winds and heavy rains, with accumulations of 2 to 4 inches, the storm downed trees and power lines, damaged roofs, and flooded low-lying areas throughout several Caribbean islands, including the Virgin Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Kitts, and Antigua, according to AIR.
According to AIR, in these affected territories, building stock and code enforcement can vary widely. The common construction types for residential structures in the region include wood frame, unreinforced masonry, and reinforced masonry, although the distribution of these construction materials depend on local practices. In Saint Martin, for example, construction must comply with French building standards, resulting in a consistent and robust building inventory. On the Dutch side of the island, Saint Maarten, attention to design standards is not as uniform, and building stock tends to be constructed of weaker wood frame or unreinforced masonry construction.
The storm [brought] rainfall accumulations of three to five inches over the Lesser Antilles, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. While the National Hurricane Center expects Rafael will stay well to the east of the Bahamas through Monday night, it is warning of life-threatening surf conditions and rip currents on the eastward-facing beaches of the Bahamas over the next few days.
Farther south, the northern Leeward Islands, which were drenched by the storm over the weekend, can expect 1 to 3 additional inches of rain, bringing the total rainfall from Rafael in some pockets to as much as 12 inches, forecasters said. “These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides, especially in areas of mountainous terrain,” the hurricane center said.