The week-old hurricane season's first tropical storm, Andrew, slapped the North Carolina coast with 45 mph winds and 5-foot waves yesterday before shifting directions and spinning out to sea.
Although small craft were ordered to remain in port, forecasters took down gale warnings for the coast. Showers and thunderstorms were expected to spread into Virginia and southeast Maryland, forecasters said.
Strong surf claimed the life of a Maryland woman, Jeanne M. Doane, 23, of Hyattsville, who was swept out to sea in an undertow while swimming near the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry terminal, a Hyde County deputy sheriff said.
Andrew developed Friday on the northern edge of a weather system that swamped the northern Caribbean islands with rains for two weeks and spawned floods that killed 59 people in Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Cuba.
In Jamaica, where at least 20 people were reported drowned, Prime Minister Edward Seaga said "the situation has taken on disaster proportions." At least 18 people died in flooding in the Dominican Republic, officials said, and the Cuban news agency reported three people had died and three others were missing in floods.
In Haiti, public health officials said at least 18 people had drowned in floods around Les Cayes and about 240,000 lost homes or possessions. Clayton McManaway, the U.S. ambassador to Haiti, called the flooding south of Port-Au-Prince "one of the most serious natural catastrophes to hit Haiti in many years."