Tropical Storm Kirk nears landfall in St. Lucia

By Nicholas Sakelaris and Danielle Haynes

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(UPI) — Tropical Storm Kirk neared landfall in St. Lucia on Thursday after passing over Barbados and bringing heavy rain to the region, the National Hurricane Center said.

The center of the storm was located about 15 miles east of St. Lucia and 60 miles south-southeast of Martinque, the NHC said in its 8 p.m. AST update. The storm was moving west-northwest at 14 mph and had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph.

The storm was expected to weaken and continue moving west-northwest, passing south of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic as a tropical depression.

Tropical storm warnings were in effect for Barbados, St. Lucia, Dominca, Martinique and Guadeloupe, and tropical storm watches were in place for St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The storm could dump up to 10 inches of rain across Martinique and Dominica, forecasters predicted.

Kirk became a named storm Saturday and formed the farthest south of any major storm since 2012.

The outer bands of the storm is expected to hit the eastern part of Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Maria last year. The storm is expected to dump 2 inches to 4 inches of rain on the U.S. territory.

Another named storm, Leslie, was downgraded to a non-tropical storm Tuesday. It could regain sub-tropical storm status later this week.

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