Incoming rain prompts Wash. gov. to ease burn ban

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OLYMPIA — Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire has modified a statewide ban on outdoor burning in light of storms forecast to bring significant rain.

The governor is lifting the ban for Western Washington counties, effective at 8 a.m. Saturday.

For all counties east of the Cascade Mountains, the outdoor burn ban will remain in effect through midnight Monday.

Gregoire called the rain that started Friday “a welcome change” for a state that has seen major wildfires.

Still, she urged residents to continue to “take extra caution to prevent additional human-caused fires.”

The governor made her decision after consulting with state Department of Natural Resources Director Peter Goldmark and Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste.

Tropical Storm Rafael dumps rain in east Caribbean

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands (AP) — Tropical Storm Rafael lashed the eastern Caribbean Saturday with heavy rains that are expected to unleash floods on islands around the region.

The storm was located about 100 miles southeast of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands early Saturday afternoon.

It had top sustained winds of 40 mph and was moving north at 9 mph.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the storm will gain some strength and will pass near or over the Virgin Islands Saturday night.

Flooding was reported in the eastern Caribbean island of Trinidad, where the storm caused a brief power outage at the island's main international airport late Friday.

At least one flight was cancelled.

A tropical storm warning was in effect for the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, Antigua, Montserrat, St. Maartin and Guadeloupe.

Puerto Rico was under a tropical storm watch.

Meanwhile, tropical depression Patty disintegrated east-northeast of the central Bahamas.

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