Beryl weakens to low pressure system as it moves toward Puerto Rico

Tropical Storm Beryl, the first Atlantic hurricane of the 2018 season, was downgraded Sunday to a remnant low pressure system, the National Hurricane Center said.

As of 11 p.m. Sunday, the remnants of Beryl were moving over the northeastern Caribbean Sea. It is expected to drift south of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico by Monday, bringing squally rains and occasional breezy conditions.

Puerto Rico is not currently under any warnings or watches from the hurricane center. Such advisories were discontinued Sunday afternoon for Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Martin, St. Barthelemy, Saba, St. Maarten and St. Eustatius.

The Meteorological Service of Barbados has discontinued the tropical storm watch for Dominica, which was torn apart by Hurricane Maria last September. The government announced earlier Sunday that a curfew and state of emergency will go into effect at 4 p.m. on Sunday. The water system will also be shut down at 2 p.m.

Rainfall amounts are expected to reach between 2 to 3 inches across the Leeward and Virgin Islands, as well as Puerto Rico. Local amounts of up to 5 inches are possible, according to the hurricane center.

“While we don’t expect a direct hit to take place on Puerto Rico, even some of those outer bands … have the potential to knock out power” on the US territory, CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar said.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello declared a state of emergency for the island on Friday.

Puerto Rico preps

Though the storm was far from the strength of major Hurricanes Maria and Irma last year, Beryl still posed a threat of wind and rain to areas that have not fully recovered from those destructive storms. Hurricane Maria destroyed Puerto Rico’s electrical grid and caused the deaths of an untold number of people.

The US commonwealth was ordered to turn over to CNN and another news organization a database of information on all deaths that occurred after Maria pummeled the island. An academic report has estimated that 4,645 people died due to Maria’s destruction.

News of Beryl’s approach was enough for Puerto Ricans to flock to stores to stock up on water and dry goods.

Frances Colon, a Miami resident who was on the island for a wedding, shared a photo Friday morning of a line of people that spread to the parking lot of a Costco in the city of Bayamón.

“People are very aware, and they want to be prepared,” Colon said.

“No one taking a chance with Beryl,” she tweeted. “It’s all anyone talks about wherever we go. I don’t blame them.”

Others shared photos of the crowds lining up to buy supplies.

Gabriel Rivera-Cruz, a resident of San Juan, went to the same Costco on Thursday night with his family and was surprised to see long lines of people already there.

“I think the memories from (last year’s) hurricanes are so fresh that we have a clear idea of the effects and which items can be scarce or hard to find,” he said.

“Most people I know are aware that this storm doesn’t seem to be a second Maria, but is simply a wake-up call that the hurricane season is here and we are still extremely vulnerable,” Rivera-Cruz added.