Tropical Storm Emily heads for Haiti
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Wednesday August 3, 2011 – Evacuations have been ordered across Haiti as Tropical Storm Emily continues on track to pass across the island late today, bringing heavy rains that Director of the National Meteorological Centre Ronald Semelfort warned represents “a great danger for the country still fragile from the January 2010 earthquake."
A tropical storm warning remains in effect for the island, as well as neighbouring Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico which the storm brushed past yesterday, southeast Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands. The tropical storm watch for the U.S Virgin Islands has been discontinued.
Meteorologists say the tropical storm could bring up to 10 inches of rain over Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and the National Hurricane Centre (NHC)in Miami said that rainfall could trigger life-threatening flash floods and mud slides.
Authorities have urged people living in tent camps, set up since the quake disaster, as well as other people living in flood-prone areas and locations vulnerable to landslides, to evacuate and seek shelter in safer areas.
“The responsible authorities have activated the Emergency Operations Centre,” the country’s Meteorological Centre said in a statement.
“The department coordinations, municipal and local committees, and the fire volunteers of the civil defense stand ready to intervene if necessary.”
The NHC says Tropical Storm Emily, which has maximum sustained winds of about 50 miles per hour, could strengthen before it reaches Hispaniola, the island that encompasses Haiti and the Dominican Republic later today and tonight.
Despite the declaration of a state of emergency before the storm, there were no reports of any major damage in Puerto Rico. Rain mostly affected the western part of the island. However, up to this morning rain from the outer bands of the storm was still falling across Puerto Rico.
At the 5 am bulletin, Tropical Storm Emily was located about 180 miles southeast of the Dominican Republic’s capital, Santo Domingo, and was moving towards the west-northwest near 14 miles per hour.
A turn toward the northwest with little change in forward speed is expected over the next couple of days, according to the NHC.
On the forecast track, the centre of Emily will move into southeastern Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands tomorrow after passing Hispaniola today and tonight.
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