Published 9:26 AM EDT Sep 24, 2019
A 6.0-magnitude earthquake rattled Puerto Rico just hours before Tropical Storm Karen was forecast to pound an island still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Maria two years ago.
No serious damage or injuries were immediately reported from the quake, centered about 50 miles northwest of the island when it struck just before midnight Monday. Several strong aftershocks further rocked many residents.
Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced urged residents to remain calm in the face of the dueling meteorological threats.
“We hope everyone is well and we have no harm in the face of the strong tremor,” she tweeted, adding that there was no risk of tsunami from the quake.
Meanwhile, a light rain was falling on San Juan on Tuesday morning as Tropical Storm Karen made its way toward the island. The National Weather Service issued a tropical storm warning, forecasting heavy winds and rain beginning later in the day.
Maximum sustained winds increased Tuesday to near 40 mph with higher gusts, and Karen was forecast to strengthen over the next two days.
Tropical storm force winds were expected to arrive by Tuesday afternoon.
“The storm has been experiencing strong northeasterly vertical wind shear the past two days, and that will continue through Wednesday,” warned Dan Kottlowski, a hurricane expert at AccuWeather.
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“We must remember that we are in the most active period of the hurricane season and we should not lower our guard,” said Department of Public Security chief Carlos Acevedo Caballero.
He said everyone should have a Family Emergency Plan and urged stashing water and food supplies for a minimum of ten days per family member, including pets.
Some isolated areas of Puerto Rico could see 8 inches of rain, enough to touch off flooding and mudslides in areas still healing from the fury of Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 giant blamed for 3,000 deaths and $90 billion in damages two years ago.
Puerto Rico’s Bureau of Emergency Management and Disaster Management opened shelters in anticipation of problems.
“It is important that citizens know what is the closest shelter to their home,” Housing Secretary Gil Enseñat said. “Prepare and keep calm.”