Puerto Rico to close schools as TD Karen threatens flooding

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico's governor announced Monday that she was canceling classes and closing public agencies as Tropical Depression Karen approaches the U.S. territory and threatens to cause heavy flooding in the island's eastern region.

Gov. Wanda Vázquez activated the National Guard and urged people in flood-prone areas to seek shelter.

At 11 p.m. EDT, Karen was centered 160 miles (260 kilometers) south of San Juan and moving north-northwest at 10 mph (17 kph), with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph (55 kph). Forecasters said it was expected to become a tropical storm again, perhaps before reaching Puerto Rico.

Roberto Garcia, meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service's San Juan office, said 2 to 4 inches (5-10 centimeters) of rain was expected, with up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) in isolated areas, by the time the storm passed by on Tuesday. He added that some towns in the eastern part of Puerto Rico would likely be hit with moderate to serious flooding, especially those next to mountains.

"They will be greatly affected," he said.

The island is still recovering from Hurricane Maria, which hit as a Category 4 storm two years ago and is estimated to have caused more than $100 billion in damage. More than 25,000 homes still have a blue tarp for a roof and the electric grid remains unstable.

"It's a reality that we might have power outages," Vázquez said.

A tropical storm warning was still in effect for Puerto Rico, the neighboring islands of Vieques and Culebra, and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. Schools and government offices also were ordered to close on those islands.

Farther north, Tropical Storm Jerry was moving toward the north and was projected to pass near Bermuda by Wednesday morning. It was about 300 miles (480 kilometers) southwest of Bermuda and had sustained winds of 65 mph (100 kph).

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Lorenzo formed over the far eastern Atlantic and was projected to become a major hurricane by the end of the week, though while curving out over the open sea away from land. It was centered about 270 miles (435 kilometers) southwest of the southernmost Cape Verde Islands and had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph (85 kph). It was heading west at 15 mph (24 kph).