Tropical Storm Isaias came packed with uncertainty. Its asymmetrical and disorganized system had people practically guessing.
It was first felt early on Thursday morning, surprising Punta Cana residents with its gusty winds. At the end, Punta Cana would receive a good share of rain and wind, but major damages were not reported.
In the East, nevertheless, in the eastern province of El Seibo, 53-year old Chiche Peguero was reported dead, electrified by a fallen line. Flooding caused the most damage in cities and towns of the eastern and northeastern provinces. The north coast from Samaná to Puerto Plata was hit by the storm. However, reports are that neither strong wind gusts nor heavy rains were felt in northwestern Montecristi, where the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) had reported the storm would exit the country.
Reports are that it was the eastern provinces, and most of the north coast that felt the brunt of the first tropical storm to hit the country this year. The storm was unusually early in the season.
Some of the worst flooding was in the eastern province of Hato Mayor, where social media shared photos of concrete houses almost completely under water. Nearby, La Romana was unscathed. Then videos showed that short yet intense rains with gusts hit in nearby San Pedro de Macoris- Boca Chica area (Juan Dolio, Cucama, Embassy Beach). People in the capital city (Greater Santo Domingo) were left waiting for the storm that never came. Only light rains and some wind gusts were felt since Wednesday.
It seemed the storm packed up, deciding not to continue west and instead headed north inland. Intense rainstorms were reported in Bonao and in Santiago, in the center of the country, with winds of 95 km/h. Samaná City was subjected to intense rains and big flooding of its inner city streams. Videos showed the flooded Malecón boulevard. Rancho Arriba in central San Jose de Ocoa is now incommunicado by road. Lots of fallen trees are reported.
The Center for Emergency Operations (COE) announced that 23 aqueducts are out of service and another 25 are affected by the intense rainfall. Many power outages were reported. Falling electricity lines were plenty, announced the EdeEste power utility. EdeEste reported that 366,819 users were left without the service due to damages caused by the storm in the East. EdeNorte reports 109,650 users were affected. EdeSur reports 33,169 suffered outages.
Weather reporters kept explaining that the storm is so big that when it entered the Dominican Republic it was also still affecting the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico has reported flooding in many areas.
The storm strengthened to hurricane category on Friday, after it left Dominican territory. Given its large size, local weather authorities say all should continue to take preventive actions as the rains will continue to bring possible flooding and the gusts could affect trees and property. The reports indicate that tropical-storm-force winds crossing over the island extended outwards up to 240 miles / around 400 kms from the center.
Rainfall of up to eight inches was forecast all throughout. Onamet weather forecaster Gloria Ceballos said the storm moved across the DR at a forward speed of around 31 kph, headed in a northwestern direction.
COE had issued red alert for Greater Santo Domingo, and the provinces of La Altagracia, La Romana, San Pedro de Macoris, El Seibo, Hato Mayor in the East. Monte Plata, Duarte, Maria Trinidad Sánchez and Samaná in the central and northeast. And San Cristobal, Peravia, Azua and Barahona to the west because of the possible lashing by the tail of the storm. The warnings were still in place on Friday morning.
Tropical Storm Isaias strengthened as it hit open waters and is now Hurricane Isaias as it makes its way on a course that would take it to the Bahamas.
30 July 2020
Updated on 31 July 2020