121026 Hurricane Sandy Slogs Toward U.S., 41 killed in Caribbean

Hurricane Sandy Slogs toward U.S., 41 Killed in Caribbean

By Tom Brown

MIAMI | Fri Oct 26, 2012 7:54pm EDT

MIAMI (Reuters) – Hurricane Sandy, a late-season Atlantic cyclone that threatens to be one of the worst storms to hit the Northeast in decades, slogged slowly northward on Friday after killing at least 41 people in the Caribbean.

Forecasters said wind damage, widespread and extended power outages and coastal and inland flooding were anticipated across a broad swath of the densely populated U.S. East Coast when Sandy comes ashore early next week.

“We’re expecting a large, large storm. The circulation of this storm as it approaches the coast could cover about the eastern third of the United States,” said Louis Uccellini, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Centers for Environmental Prediction.

He stopped short of calling Sandy possibly the worst storm to hit the U.S. Northeast in 100 years, as some weather watchers were doing, but said Sandy was shaping up to go down as a storm of “historic” proportions.

The late-season hybrid storm has been dubbed “Frankenstorm” by some weather watchers because it will combine elements of a tropical cyclone and a winter storm. Forecast models show it will have all of the ingredients to morph into a massive and potentially catastrophic “super storm.”

On its current projected track, government forecasters said, Sandy could make landfall on Monday night or Tuesday in Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York or southern New England.

In New York City, the global financial hub, officials were considering closing down mass transit before the storm hits.


Coming in the final weeks before the U.S. presidential election on November 6, the storm could throw last-minute campaign travel plans into chaos.

An aide to Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney said he had canceled a campaign event scheduled for Sunday night in Virginia Beach, Virginia. President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign announced that Vice President Joe Biden had also canceled a trip to Virginia Beach scheduled for Saturday.

The Democratic incumbent was traveling to New Hampshire on Saturday, and on Monday was due to visit Youngstown, Ohio, and Orlando, Florida.

Craig Fugate, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said he and the head of the U.S. National Hurricane Center had briefed the president on preparations for the storm on Friday morning.

“His direction to us again, as always, is to make sure we are prepared to support the states and the governors dependent upon the impacts of the storm,” Fugate told reporters.

Much of Florida’s northeast coast was under a tropical storm warning on Friday, and storm watches extended up the coast through North Carolina. Winds and rains generated by Sandy were being felt across much of Florida, with schools closed and air travel snarled in many areas.

Sandy weakened to a Category 1 storm as it tore though sparsely populated low-lying southeastern islands in the Bahamas late Thursday, knocking out power and blowing rooftops off some homes.

Some further weakening was forecast over the next two days, but the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said hurricane- or tropical-force winds were still likely by the time Sandy hits the U.S. coast.

Sandy’s driving rains and heavy winds were blamed for 41 deaths in the Caribbean, where landslides and flash floods were triggered by the cyclone.

The Cuban government said Sandy killed 11 people when it tore across the island on Thursday. The storm took at least 26 other lives in deeply impoverished Haiti and four people were killed in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and the Bahamas.

The Haitian dead included a family of five in Grand-Goave, west of the capital Port-au-Prince, killed in a landslide that destroyed their home, authorities said.

The Cuban fatalities were unusual for the communist-ruled country that has long prided itself on protecting its people from storms by ordering mass evacuations.

The National Hurricane Center said Sandy was about 420 miles south-southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, late on Friday afternoon, packing top sustained winds of 75 miles per hour (120 km per hour).


Sandy was forecast to remain a Category 1 hurricane as it completed it passage over the Bahamas late on Friday, sending swirling rains and winds across areas including Florida.

It was moving slowly, however, making its final trek across the central and northwest corner of the Bahamas islands at 7 mph.

Many forecasters are warning that Sandy could be more destructive than last year’s Hurricane Irene, which caused billions of dollars in damage as it battered the U.S. Northeast.

Uccellini said he was reluctant to make comparisons with other storms. But he warned that a full moon on Sunday added to Sandy’s potential for destruction when it comes ashore in the United States.

“The lunar tide peaks two days after the full moon, and that’s Monday-Tuesday, which is exactly when the storm will be impacting the coastal areas,” he said. “We’ll have heavy rains and inland river flooding is a real potential here.”

Todd Kimberlain said Sandy was somewhat unique because of its integration with the polar trough over the United States.


Heavy rains from Hurricane Sandy causes the Croix de Mission river to swell to levels that threaten to flood the homes along its bank in Port-au-Prince October 25, 2012. REUTERS-Swoan Parker
A man watches heavy rains from Hurricane Sandy cause the Croix de Mission river to swell to levels that threaten to flood the homes along its bank and nearby areas, in Port-au-Prince October 25, 2012. REUTERS-Swoan Parker
Jamaicans shelter themselves from the rain of approaching Hurricane Sandy in Kingston October 24, 2012. REUTERS-Gilbert Bellamy

1 of 9. Heavy rains from Hurricane Sandy causes the Croix de Mission river to swell to levels that threaten to flood the homes along its bank in Port-au-Prince October 25, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Swoan Parker

 Momma’s Source: Reuters.com
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Tropical Storm Isaac Takes Aim at Puerto Rico, Threatens Haiti

Tropical Storm Isaac Takes Aim at Puerto Rico, Threatens Haiti

TODAY’s Al Roker tracks Tropical Storms Isaac’s current path as it takes aim at Puerto Rico and the eastern Caribbean.

By Weather.com and wire reports

Updated at 8:12 a.m. ET: Tropical Storm Isaac brought rain and gusty winds to Puerto Rico and the eastern Caribbean Islands and was expected to gradually strengthen as it moved west through the northeastern Caribbean on Thursday.

Forecasters said it was too soon to gauge Isaac’s potential impact on Tampa on Florida’s Gulf Coast, where the Republican National Convention is to run from Monday through Thursday.

Related: Track Tropical Storm Isaac

Some computer models showed Isaac shifting slightly to the west and eventually moving parallel to Florida’s western coastline. Others forecast the storm to make landfall in South Florida and then move inland.

Forecasters predict Isaac will become a hurricane by Friday morning, but perhaps the more ominous threat in the short term is the potential for extremely heavy rainfall over the islands near Isaac’s path, weather.com reported.

More than a foot of rainfall, and potentially as much as 20 inches in some places, was possible on the island of Hispaniola, home to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Life-threatening flash floods and mudslides could result from that amount of rain.

Residents and visitors of the northern Caribbean, Yucatan Peninsula, southeastern United States and the central/eastern Gulf Coast should watch the progress of Isaac closely over the next week or more, weather.com reported.

Numerous watches and warnings have been issued, including a hurricane warning for Haiti and the south coast of the Dominican Republic. Puerto Rico was under a tropical storm warning, and it was expected to see its greatest impacts from Isaac on Thursday. 

Get the latest on this story from weather.com

On Thursday, Isaac is expected to pass just south of Puerto Rico. As the storm approached, Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuno declared a state of emergency, canceled classes, closed government agencies and activated the National Guard.

The government also froze prices on basic necessities such as food, batteries and other supplies and prepared emergency shelters at schools and other facilities.

Despite Tropical Storm Isaac’s threatening winds and rains ahead of the GOP convention in Florida, Mitt Romney and running mate Paul Ryan are taking aim at President Obama and his handling of the economy. NBC’s Peter Alexander reports.

Isaac was projected to weaken to a tropical storm over Haiti and then pass over Cuba before strengthening into a hurricane in the Florida Straits between Cuba and Florida. Its exact path after that remained uncertain.

Heavy rainfall, flooding and mudslides will be threats in all of the northern Caribbean islands regardless of how strong the system becomes, weather.com reported.

Isaac may also threaten U.S. energy interests in the Gulf of Mexico, weather experts said. It was centered about 265 miles southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico, early on Thursday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. Isaac had top sustained winds of 45 miles per hour.

From weather.com: Isaac’s looming US threat

At the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in southeast Cuba on Wednesday, authorities said Isaac forced the postponement of pretrial hearings that were to begin on Thursday for five prisoners accused of plotting the September 11 attacks.

The U.S. military was preparing flights to evacuate the base of lawyers, paralegals, interpreters, journalists, rights monitors and family members of 9/11 victims who had traveled there for the hearings.

From weather.com: Track Isaac’s path

Lixion Avila, a senior hurricane specialist at the hurricane center, suggested it would be foolish for anyone to think Tampa — where Republicans will nominate Mitt Romney as their presidential candidate — was out of harm’s way.

AHurricane expert Jeff Masters of private forecaster Weather Underground said Tampa had a 9 percent chance of getting hit with tropical storm-force winds for a 24-hour period ending on the morning the Republican convention kicks off. But that could make the storm a non-event in terms of the convention itself.

“I put the odds of an evacuation occurring during the convention in the current situation at 3 percent,” Masters said in his blog on the weatherunderground.com website.

Tropical Storm Isaac churns over Caribbean, could threaten GOP convention

Orange juice prices rise
Florida has not been hit by a major hurricane since 2005 and forecasts showed Isaac was not expected to strengthen beyond a weak Category 1, with top sustained wind speeds of about 80 mph.

The threat to Florida triggered a nearly 6 percent jump in orange juice prices on Wednesday as they surged to a six-week high in trading in New York.

Florida produces more than 75 percent of the U.S. orange crop and accounts for about 40 percent of the world’s orange juice supply.

Lurking behind Isaac, the hurricane center said another tropical depression formed over the eastern tropical Atlantic on Wednesday.

Located about 1,045 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands, it was packing winds of 35 mph and was expected to become a tropical storm on Thursday. Forecasts predicted it will eventually veer toward the open Atlantic and away from the Caribbean.

Reuters and weather.com contributed to this report

Momma’s Source: MSN News

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