SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Hurricane Cristobal hurled heavy rains across Atlantic and Caribbean islands on Tuesday as it headed toward Bermuda, and officials said the storm already had caused at least five deaths.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said the hurricane would likely avoid a collision with the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, but it was generating life-threatening surf and rip current conditions from central Florida to North Carolina.
The storm had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph, but it was expected to strengthen slightly by Thursday after passing northwest of Bermuda. It was centered 545 miles southwest of Bermuda and was moving north at 12 mph. Hurricane force winds extended outward up to 45 miles from the center.
Cristobal is forecast to continue on a north-northeast path on Tuesday and take a turn to the northeast on Wednesday, reports CBS Miami. On this track it will pass northwest of Bermuda on Wednesday.
Cristobal was expected to dump up to 4 inches of rain over Bermuda and lesser amounts over the already sodden Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos.
Hotel owners and tourist operators in Bermuda were dismayed at the forecast, noting that August already has been one of the rainiest months in recent history for the British island territory.
"It's been a ridiculous, endless amount of rain," said Marlie Powell, owner of the Kingston House Bed & Breakfast. "It's the height of our tourist season, so it's not a happy thing."
The Turks and Caicos announced resumption of flights Tuesday at the islands' international airport, which had been closed as the hurricane dumped some 12 inches on the islands. The governor's office reported one death after recovering a body from floodwaters on the main island of Providenciales.
Floodwaters also killed two people in Haiti and two men in the Dominican Republic, where 3,600 people were evacuated from communities, according to Jose Manuel Mendez, director of the country's emergency operations center. More than half returned to their homes by Monday.
Roughly 640 families in Haiti also were left temporarily homeless during the passage of the storm, said Luckecy Mathieu, a civil protection coordinator. Cristobal also drenched Puerto Rico over the weekend.
Meanwhile in the Pacific, Hurricane Marie was weakening off of Mexico's Pacific coast, though it was generating large, dangerous swells that were nearing the beaches of Southern California.
The hurricane's sustained winds had decreased to near 100 mph from a peak of 160 mph on Sunday. It was expected to slump to tropical storm force on Wednesday. Marie was centered about 605 miles west-southwest of the southern tip of Mexico's Baja California Peninsula and moving northwest near 15 mph.