BRIDGETOWN — Tropical Storm Tomas, nearly a hurricane, battered Barbados Saturday, damaging homes and downing power lines as it headed toward the northern Windward Islands in the eastern Caribbean, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.Packing top sustained winds of 70 miles per hour, Tomas swept over the Caribbean's easternmost island of Barbados, blowing roofs off some houses, causing widespread power outages and blocking some roads with debris, residents said.
Some residents left their homes to shelter in schools and churches, but no deaths were reported.
At 8 a.m. EDT, Tomas was located about 70 miles southeast of St. Lucia, heading westwards, and it was expected to strengthen into a hurricane later Saturday as it moved into the eastern Caribbean sea, the hurricane center said.
Tomas is the 19th named storm of what has been a very active 2010 Atlantic Hurricane season.
A hurricane warning was in effect for Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia and Martinique, while a tropical storm warning was posted for Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada and Dominica.
Far to the north, recently upgraded Hurricane Shary, the 11th hurricane of this season, raced northeastwards out over the central Atlantic after earlier passing east of the British overseas island territory of Bermuda.
No serious damage was reported in the territory, which is a popular resort and global insurance hub.
With top sustained winds of 75 miles per hour , Shary was a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson five-step scale of intensity, but was expected to weaken later Saturday and dissipate by late Sunday, the Miami-based hurricane center said.
The busy 2010 Atlantic hurricane season has produced 11 hurricanes, five of them major, but the United States has escaped a significant hurricane landfall so far.
Additional reporting by Sam Strangeways in Bermuda; Writing by Pascal Fletcher; Editing by Doina Chiacu.