Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Mottley speaks with children as an excavator prepares the beach for the arrival of Tropical Storm Dorian in Speightstown, Barbados, on August 25. Photo credit: Reuters/Nigel R. Browne.

 

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados--Tropical Storm Dorian gathered strength on Monday as it barrelled West toward Barbados, where residents stocked up on food to hunker down for an onslaught of heavy wind and rain.

  On Monday morning, some Barbados gas pumps had run dry, and island residents piled into packed stores to buy everything from pain relievers and batteries to bottled water, crackers and canned goods before the island’s official shutdown at 10:00am.

  Nearby St. Lucia also braced for Dorian’s arrival, and a hurricane watch was issued for the small island.

  The tropical cyclone is expected to be a hurricane by the time it moves Northwest across Puerto Rico on Wednesday and ploughs into the Dominican Republic, according to projections of the US National Hurricane Center (NHC).

  Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley told islanders to avoid any unnecessary risks while the storm bore down.

  “Those who do not need to go on the road or do not work in areas that are essential, unless you are going to get a last-minute something to prepare yourself, there’s no sense in going on the road,” Mottley told local radio listeners.

  Mottley’s government called for a near-total shutdown of the island Monday morning, going back on its initial decision to be open for business until noon. Barbados Meteorological Services said in a report that the island could sustain a direct hit.

  Scattered showers connected to Dorian began falling in Barbados on Monday morning.

  Dorian was considered most likely bring tropical storm conditions to the Windward Islands late on Monday and move into the eastern Caribbean Sea today, Tuesday, before churning toward Puerto Rico.

  On Monday afternoon, Dorian was about 95 miles (155 kilometres (km)) east-southeast of Barbados, blowing maximum sustained winds of 60 miles per hour (mph) (95km/h), the NHC said.

  “Dorian could be near hurricane strength when it passes through the northern Windward Islands on Tuesday, and it is expected to be a hurricane when it moves near Puerto Rico and eastern Hispaniola,” the Miami-based NHC said in a statement.

  Tropical storm warnings were in effect for Barbados, Martinique, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as of Monday evening, the NHC said. ~ Reuters ~