Two women walk with in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Saturday. Bertha pushed just south of Puerto Rico on Saturday as it unleashed heavy rains and strong winds across the region. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- Tropical Storm Bertha emerged from the eastern Dominican Republic early Sunday after whipping Puerto Rico with heavy rains and strong winds that knocked out power in parts of the region. And, forecasters say they don't expect the storm to hit the U.S. mainland.<br />
As it headed for the Turks and Caicos, the storm's maximum sustained winds dropped slightly to 45 mph (75 kph), but slow strengthening was expected by Monday. Bertha was centered about 80 miles (130 kilometers) north-northwest of Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic and was moving northwest at 21 mph (33 kph).<br />
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said the storm was likely to curve to the northeast and move parallel to the U.S. eastern seaboard without hitting the mainland.<br />
The director of the Dominican Republic's Emergency Operations Center, Juan Manuel Mendez, said that rain had been falling on parts of the country but there were no reports of damage so far.<br />
Officials were asking hotels and resorts in Punta Cana to cancel any activities and prohibited tourist and fishing boats from taking to the water on the country's east coast.<br />
Earlier Saturday, the storm passed just southwest of Puerto Rico, dropping between 3 to 5 inches (8-13 centimeters) of rain, with isolated amounts of up to 8 inches (20 centimeters).
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
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