Hurricane Dean Hits St. Lucia, Martinique

Miami -- The first hurricane of the Atlantic season, Dean, hit the eastern Caribbean islands of St. Lucia and Martinique today, forcing airports to close and hotels to evacuate their guests to shelters, according to the Associated Press.

The eye of the Category 2 storm passed between the two islands, which are less than 50 miles apart, and is headed to Jamaica, according to the National Hurricane Center, located here. Meteorologists said the hurricane could strengthen to Category 4 by next week, when it is projected to reach Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.

Tropical storm warnings have been issued for St. Lucia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Antigua and Barbuda, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Anguilla, and St. Maarten. The warnings were canceled for Grenada, Barbados, St. Vincent, and the Grenadines.

On St. Lucia, the 100-mph winds knocked down power poles today, prompting authorities to cut off electricity, according to the AP. On Martinique, the news service reported, authorities opened temporary shelters in schools while residents emptied grocery store shelves, especially of drinking water, and lined up at gas stations.

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