SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Tropical Storm Philippe drenched the U.S. and British Virgin Islands on Wednesday as it spun away from the northeast Caribbean on a path that would take it toward Bermuda and later New England and Atlantic Canada.
The storm was located about 295 miles (475 kilometers) north of St. Thomas on Wednesday. It had winds of up to 40 mph (55 kph) and was moving north at 12 mph (19 kph), according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Philippe had made landfall late Monday in Barbuda, and officials in neighboring Antigua said a fire that occurred early Tuesday during the storm destroyed at least 10 businesses at the Antigua Yacht Club Marina & Resort. Authorities are investigating what caused the blaze, although they reported heavy lightning in the area. The marina is still operating.
The storm forced the British and U.S. Virgin Islands to shutter schools, with the later reporting multiple power outages in St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John amid heavy rains and lightning. Officials in Montserrat also reported electrical outages as well as downed trees and power lines. School, government offices and businesses remained closed on the island.
Meanwhile, schools in St. Martin and St. Barts remained closed Wednesday morning, and officials in the French Caribbean territories banned people from swimming in the ocean or doing any nautical activities until Thursday.
Forecasters said up to 12 inches (30 centimeters) of rain could fall in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, and up to four inches (10 centimeters) in northeast and southeast Puerto Rico.
A tropical storm watch was issued for Bermuda, with Philippe is expected to approach the island late Thursday and Friday as it was forecast to intensify slightly in the coming days.
“The intensity forecast remains murky,” the hurricane center said.