Updated: Saturday, 30 Oct 2010, 3:17 PM EDT
Published : Saturday, 30 Oct 2010, 12:46 PM EDT
CASTRIES, St. Lucia (AP) - Newly born Hurricane Tomas barreled toward a cluster of eastern Caribbean islands on Saturday after it downed power lines and damaged homes in Barbados as a tropical storm.
Heavy winds were battering St. Lucia, where the government ordered the two commercial airports and all businesses closed. Also under hurricane warning were St. Vincent and Martinique.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Tomas had winds of 75 mph (120 kph) and was located about 40 miles (65 kilometers) south-southeast of St. Lucia. It was moving west-northwest near 15 mph (24 kph).
In St. Lucia, plans were still in place to host the island's biggest Creole festival on Sunday, with bright ribbons fluttering along streets as the hurricane approached. It was expected to pass north of the southern town of Vieux Fort around midday.
Tomas, the Atlantic season's 12th hurricane, is expected to drop up to 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rain in the region.
Forecasters said i could become a Category 2 hurricane by Monday evening, and possibly reach Category 3, with winds of 115 mph (184 kph) by midweek.
It was forecast to head toward Jamaica while threatening to unleash heavy rains in the southern portions of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, which is struggling to recover from a devastating earthquake and to cope with a recent cholera outbreak.
Another tropical storm, Shary, missed Bermuda and headed into the open Atlantic.
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