Jamaica + 2 more

Hurricane Lenny Threatens Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands

Washington November 15, 1999 -- The National Hurricane Center (NHC) reports Hurricane Lenny formed Sunday evening in the southern Caribbean Sea, and could threaten Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands within two days or less.

Lenny, a Category II hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph, was located 175 miles south of Kingston, Jamaica at 5 a.m. today. Lenny is traveling east at 9 mph, a track that is expected to continue throughout the day.

NHC forecasters think Lenny will take a turn to the northeast by tomorrow, putting it on a track toward Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Within the next 24 hours, they expect Lenny's winds to reach 110 mph, making it a borderline Category III storm.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for Jamaica and a hurricane watch is in effect for southern Haiti. Storm watches and/or warnings may be necessary later today for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

Hurricane force winds extend out 25 miles from the center of Lenny and tropical storm force winds extend out 85 miles. The minimum central pressure at the last report was 971mb. Puerto Rico's west coast should begin to receive tropical storm force winds before dawn Wednesday and landfall is expected west of Ponce on the southwest coast at mid-morning Wednesday.

Hurricane hunter aircraft have several flights planned for today.

FEMA's regional office in New York City (Region II), which has responsbility for the Caribbean, will activate its Regional Operations Center at 8 a.m. tomorrow. The office is forming Advance Emergency Response Teams - Advance for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands and the teams are preparing for possible deployment.

FEMA's Hurricane Liaison Team is deploying to National Hurricane Center in Miami, with the first elements expected to arrive by tonight. The entire team will be in place by tomorrow.

Updated: November 15, 1999