Tropical Storm Alex lashes Bermuda area with wind, rain

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - Bermuda shuttered its schools, businesses and government agencies as Tropical Storm Alex brushed past the British overseas territory on Monday after killing three people in Cuba and deluging parts of Florida.

The first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season had grown to near hurricane force late Sunday, reaching 70 mph (110 kph), but weakened a bit Monday morning on a track just north of Bermuda.

In Florida it flooded streets and left drivers stranded in some cities over the weekend while in Cuba, it killed three people, damaged dozens of homes and knocked out electricity in some areas, authorities reported. .

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Alex maximum sustained winds of 65 mph (100 kph) and further weakening was expected by Tuesday. It was centered about 130 miles (210 kilometers) north-northeast of Bermuda and was moving to the east-northeast at a brisk 29 mph (46 kph).

A tropical storm warning was in effect on the island, where forecasters said it could drop 1 to 2 inches (25 to 50 mm) of rain and generate waves of up to 20 feet (6 meters). More than 800 customers already were without power, and at least three American Airlines flights were cancelled, authorities said.

Bermuda's government Twitter account said crews were clearing downed trees from roads.

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said the storm had tested a system drainage pumps the city recently installed as climate change has increasingly made flooding an issue in the low-lying area.

"We moved the water off pretty quickly, but in some areas, obviously, it was really challenging," Gelber said.

Alex partially emerged from the remnants of Hurricane Agatha, which made landfall on on Mexico's southern Pacific Coast last week, killing at least nine people and leaving five missing as it moved over land.

The storm's appearance was unusually early for the Atlantic hurricane season, which officially began last Tuesday, but it is not unprecedented for Florida.

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