Hurricane hits eastern Caribbean

Hurricane Tomas has hit the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent, causing extensive damage before weakening to a Category 1 storm.
A woman walks by damaged power lines and infrastructure after the storm hit St. James Parish, Barbados, on Saturday. ((Chris Brandis/Associated Press))
Hurricane Tomas caused extensive damage to the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent on Saturday night, before weakening to a Category 1 storm.

The Category 2 storm was packing winds of 155 km/h when it made landfall. It tore the roofs from homes and knocked out electricity all over the island. But as the storm moved northwest over the Caribbean early Sunday, the winds were clocked as high as 150 km/h.

Tomas was downgraded Sunday evening to a tropical storm over the eastern Caribbean, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in a release at 11 p.m. AT.

St. Lucia, Barbados and Martinique were tallying the damage done by Tomas earlier Saturday. Torrential rain made a number of roads impassible in Barbados and high winds destroyed roofs in several communities.

Authorities in St. Vincent said they had unconfirmed reports that three people died during the storm, including two men who might have been blown off a roof.

Jimmy Prince, emergency management spokesman for St. Vincent, said fierce winds tore roofs from nearly 100 homes as the island plunged into darkness.

Forecasters had initially predicted Tomas would intensify to a Category 3 hurricane by Tuesday, when it is expected to pass south of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. It was over open ocean Sunday, 425 kilometres south of Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Tomas is the 12th hurricane of the 2010 hurricane season.

With files from The Associated Press