CHANTAL gains force over Caribbean and heads for Jamaica

Saturday, August 18th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (AP) _ Tropical Storm Chantal was moving quickly toward Jamaica early Saturday, after leaving two dead in Trinidad, forecasters said.

A hurricane warning was issued for Jamaica early Saturday, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, which said the storm would likely come within 125 miles of the island's southern coast by late Saturday or early Sunday.

``We feel that it could become a hurricane by late Saturday or Sunday,'' said Dan Brown, a meteorologist with the hurricane center.

Chantal formed early Thursday and raced westward across the Atlantic Ocean, passing over Barbados before hovering over the small island of St. Vincent.

In southern Trinidad, lightning struck two brothers who were out collecting rainwater, killing them instantly, said Constable Shazeed Mohammed. Heavy rain washed out roads and flooded villages.

Chantal weakened Thursday night, but gained strength over open seas Friday and was upgraded to a tropical storm once again.

Early Saturday, the center of the season's third named storm was 425 miles east-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica, moving west at 23 mph, with sustained winds of 60 mph.

Tropical storms have sustained winds of at least 39 mph and become hurricanes at 74 mph.

The season's first two named storms, Allison and Barry, hit land as wet thunderstorms on the northern Gulf Coast. Barry did little damage and brought relief to drought-stricken areas in the southeast United States.