Tropical Storm Gabrielle was downgraded to a tropical depression Thursday but continued lashing the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico with heavy rains as it spun toward the Dominican Republic.
As of 11 a.m., the storm had become disorganized and its winds had dropped to 35 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
The tropical storm warnings for Puerto Rico and parts of the Dominican Republic were dropped, but heavy rains were still possible.
Track Gabrielle at OrlandoHurricane.com
Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla activated the National Guard, canceled classes at all public schools and closed central government agencies as a precaution. Downed trees were reported in the central town of Ciales and small landslides in the central mountain town of Utuado, with crews working to clear roads. Several residents in the northern municipality of Bayamon were relocated because a nearby mountain had already experienced landslides in recent weeks amid persistent wet weather. Miguel Rios, director of Puerto Rico's emergency management agency, said the system was interacting with a cluster of storms hovering above Puerto Rico's northeast coast. "In the next 36 hours, we can experience heavy rains at any moment," he said. "We must remain on alert." Some 14 inches (36 centimeters) drenched the capital of San Juan in July, making it the wettest July ever recorded for Puerto Rico.
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