Strengthening storm Grace pummels Jamaica with heavy rain, wind

·1-min read

By Kate Chappell

KINGSTON (Reuters) - Tropical Storm Grace pounded Jamaica with heavy rain and wind on Tuesday after causing flooding in parts of Haiti, which is scrambling to deal with a major earthquake at the weekend that killed more than 1,400 people.

Grace, which is expected to become a hurricane by the time it hits Mexico's Yucatan peninsula on Thursday, was by late morning about 110 miles (177 kilometers) east of Montego Bay with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph (85km/h), the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. Higher gusts were reported.

"A whole heap of water is on the road. Trees are broke down, and the place a flood-out," said Yankee Paul Junior, 21, a tax collector who was stranded in Jamaica's eastern parish of St. Thomas. "I'm stuck and I want to go work."

Footage and images broadcast on social media showed downed trees and flooded roads, and several major arteries in Kingston were impassable, making it potentially hard for Jamaicans to get home in time for a 7 p.m. curfew under COVID-19 restrictions.

Romayne Robinson, a meteorologist with the Meteorological Service of Jamaica, said he expected conditions to continue to be challenging for the next six to 12 hours.

"It's a good idea for everybody to stay put and ride out the storm," Robinson said.

The Miami-based NHC said tropical storm conditions were spreading over Jamaica. The country's meteorological service said between four and six inches of rain could fall, which risked causing major flooding and landslides.

(Editing by Dave Graham and Steve Orlofsky)

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