Caribbean tropical disturbance shutters schools, companies

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Forecasters issued a hurricane watch for the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border on Wednesday as a tropical disturbance swept across the southern Caribbean on a path toward Central America.

The disturbance was expected to quickly become a tropical storm and likely to be near or over Nicaragua by the end of Friday, according to the US National Hurricane Center.

The outage was about 90 kilometers west-southwest of Curaçao on Wednesday evening. It had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph) and was moving west at a speed of 21 mph (33 kph).

It was expected to turn into a tropical storm as it approaches Nicaragua and Costa Rica, although forecasters said its rapid pace and interaction with land could slow development.

As a result of the disruption, Venezuela’s government closed schools, opened shelters and restricted air and water transport on Wednesday, as President Nicolás Maduro noted that the South American country is already struggling with the recent heavy rains.

“Care, caution, preparation, nerves of steel!” he said during a televised news conference when he ordered authorities to protect people.

Meanwhile, on the nearby Dutch-Caribbean island of Curaçao, the government imposed a curfew that went into effect late Wednesday, ordering all businesses to close.

The outage previously hit Trinidad & Tobago, where officials said the storms caused power outages and temporarily shut down wastewater installations, although no serious damage was reported.

A hurricane watch was in place from the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border to Laguna de Perlas in Nicaragua. Meanwhile, a tropical storm warning was in effect for Curacao and Aruba, as well as off the coast of Venezuela from the Paraguana Peninsula along the Colombian border to the city of Santa Marta.

Nicaragua and Costa Rica may see up to 18 inches or more of rain, and up to 15 inches of rain is forecast for Grenada, Trinidad & Tobago and northeastern Venezuela.

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