Even as Gustav departs, 3 big new storms loom
On the heels of Gustav's destructive romps through the U.S. South and Caribbean, three tropical storms were lined up like an assembly line...
The Miami Herald
On the heels of Gustav's destructive romps through the U.S. South and Caribbean, three tropical storms were lined up like an assembly line in the Atlantic, poised to burst into hurricanes today.
The main threat: Tropical Storm Hanna, a stalling, crawling system that destroyed parts of Haiti as the country was bailing out from Hurricane Gustav's deadly wrath.
"Gonaives practically doesn't exist," Eberle Nicolas, a Haitian agronomist, said Tuesday from the flooded town about 75 miles north of Port-au-Prince.
Floodwater overtopped riverbanks in Gonaives and the northern coast town of Port-de-Paix, sending people fleeing to rooftops. Prime Minister Michéle Pierre-Louis tried to tour Gonaives but was turned away by the high water, and the storms prevented rescue helicopters from searching for victims.
"The situation is grave," Port-de-Paix Mayor Salvador Guillet said. "This is perhaps the most difficult moment we've experienced in our history."
What's worse: Tropical Storm Ike could sink Haiti's low-lying towns if it moves over Hispaniola on Saturday as a Category 2 hurricane like forecasters expect.
Hanna destroyed at least 1,500 homes and brought unconfirmed reports of at least 13 deaths in Haiti, which hasn't recovered from Gustav, which ripped through the southern region last week, killing 79 people and damaging more than 10,000 homes.
Competing wind shear and interaction with land knocked Hanna down from a hurricane to a tropical storm with 65 mph winds Tuesday, but forecasters at the National Hurricane Center said Hanna could regain hurricane strength today as it moves northwest through the Bahamas and toward Florida's coast.
Hanna could make landfall by late Friday in South Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane, but a slight detour could send it plowing into Florida.
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist issued a state of emergency Tuesday to more easily mobilize emergency responders if Hanna hits the state. But forecasters warned that the entire U.S. East Coast should keep close watch.
"It is too early to tell," said Dennis Feltgen, a meteorologist and spokesman for the hurricane center.
Ike gained some strength and looked well-organized by late Tuesday, and forecasters said it would likely become a hurricane today. Its projected path would keep it south of Florida, with a possible landfall on the north coast of Cuba on Sunday.
Tropical Storm Josephine was expected to reach hurricane strength today as it tracks over warm, open water.
The smattering of storms comes during the peak of hurricane season, from mid-August through October. Government forecasters predicted last month this above-average season would bring 14 to 18 named storms. There have been 10.
Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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