St. Lucia, Dominica to Feel Effects of Hurricane Dean

Dean, the Atlantic season's first hurricane, is expected to hit the central Caribbean region, prompting warnings Thursday for the islands of Dominica and St. Lucia, according to the National Weather Service. A watch also continues for the islands of Martinique, Guadeloupe and its dependencies, according to the NWS' Thursday forecast. Also, a tropical storm warning remained in effect as of late Thursday afternoon for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, Saba, St. Eustatius, Monserrat, Antigua, Nevis, St. Kitts, Barbuda and St. Maarten. Dean was 485 miles east of Barbados at 5 a.m. Thursday Miami time, and heading west at 24 mph, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in an advisory on its web site. The system's sustained winds strengthened to 75 mph from 70 mph earlier Thursday, taking it past the 74 mph threshold for a hurricane. The hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30.