Several killed on St. Vincent as Hurricane Tomas strengthens into a category two storm

October 31st, 2010 - 2:26 pm ICT by BNO News  

MIAMI (BNO NEWS) — Hurricane Tomas strengthened into a category two storm on early Sunday morning, meteorologists said, as several people have reportedly been killed on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent.

As of 2 a.m. EDT, the center of Hurricane Tomas was centered about 140 kilometers (90 miles) west-northwest of the volcanic island of Saint Vincent in the eastern Caribbean Sea. It is moving towards the west-northwest near 13 kilometers (8 miles) per hour.

“This general motion is expected to continue through Sunday night, followed by a turn toward the west on Monday,” said Dr. Michael Brennan, senior hurricane specialist at the Miami-based National Hurricane Center. “On the forecast track, the center of Tomas will continue moving away from the Windward Islands overnight.”

Hurricane Tomas was upgraded to a category two storm after a hurricane hunter aircraft found Tomas slightly stronger than earlier with maximum sustained winds near 155 kilometers (100 miles) per hour, and higher gusts.

Forecasters said it remains uncertain how Tomas will develop over the next couple of days due to conflicting weather models, although experts do believe the hurricane will strengthen into a major hurricane by Wednesday.

“There continues to be low confidence in the intensity forecast,” said Robbie Berg, another hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center. “None of the intensity models show much strengthening beyond about [100 miles]. The flow over the Caribbean sea should be favorable for strengthening, especially if Tomas maintains a more southern course.”

On Sunday morning, tropical storm conditions were still occurring on the islands of Dominica, Martinique, St. Lucia. and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. A tropical storm warning remains in effect for these islands where tropical storm conditions are expected to continue throughout the morning.

On St. Vincent, several people were reportedly killed as a result of the storm that brought down power lines and partly destroyed homes on the island. Few details about the storm damage, and its casualties, were immediately available. Damage was also reported on St. Lucia and Barbados.

Tomas, the Atlantic season’s 12th hurricane, is expected to move towards Jamaica, Cuba and Haiti over the next few days. Especially Haiti is a grave concern, as it has been badly hit by several disasters this year.

On January 12, a powerful 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck close to Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, killing more than 230,000 people. And currently, parts of Haiti are trying to cope with a cholera outbreak that has already claimed more than 330 lives.

Officials believe a storm, especially a major hurricane, could bring even more devastation to the poor country where many still live in tens after January’s earthquake. A brief but sudden rainstorm in September killed at least 5 people and injured hundreds more.

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