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November 2, 2010

Haiti in peril as Tomas gains strength

Hurricane forecasters say they see signs of strengthening in Tropical Storm Tomas, and the storm is still expected to regain hurricane strength before striking Haiti and the island of Hispaniola late this week.

NHC/NOAATomas on Tuesday morning was located 355 miles south of Port au Prince, Haiti, moving to the west at 12 mph. Top sustained winds were estimated at 50 mph, up a bit from yesterday's reading. Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami said they see an intensification of thunderstorms near the storm's central low, and signs of banding features in some quadrants - both indicators of increased organization.

Predictions have Tomas regaining hurricane strength early on Thursday, and making a sharp turn toward the north and then northeast, reaching Haiti by late Friday or early Saturday. 

Needless to say, the Haitian people are unprepared for a hurricane. An estimated 1.3 million people displaced by last January's earthquake remain in makeshift shelters and crowded camps. Tent camp HaitiMinor storms this fall have resulted in deaths, injuries and the destruction of thousands of family shelters. On top of that, the country is fighting to contain an outbreak of cholera outside the capital.

International aid agencies are rushing supplies to staging areas in preparation for the expected storm. But with so many people in the relocation camps, it is considered impossible to move them all to secure shelters during the storm. Preparations include sandbagging, digging drainage ditches in the camps, and distributing tarps and ropes.

Such relief supplies are short, and aid groups say promised earthquake aid, including $1.15 billion from the United States, has not arrived. This has the makings of yet another calamity for Haiti, and we will likely be reading a lot about it this weekend and next week.

The U.S. amphibious warship Iwo Jima was headed for the area this week to offer assistance. Here is the latest advisory on Tomas. Here is the forecast storm track. And here is the view from space.

(PHOTO: Reuters, Eduardo Munoz; tent camp north of Port au Prince)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:39 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Comments

This is the last thing the people of Haiti need after the earthquake and the aftermath of it. Tomas might had a window where it can ramp up to a Cat 2/3 storm which would be devastating to the people there.

FR: Any strike will be devastating, even at TS strength.

How much are those poor people going to be put through? Can you imagine how terrified they must be?

Just curious if they could relocate the population to the mountains (shown in the picture of the article) as it is higher up and might help the Haitians survive???

FR: The rain will actually be heavier in the higher elevations, as warm, moist tropical air rises, cools and unloads more of its water. There is also a high risk of flash flooding and landslides in mountain valleys.

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About Frank Roylance
This site is the Maryland Weather archive. The current Maryland Weather blog can be found here.
Frank Roylance is a reporter for The Baltimore Sun. He came to Baltimore from New Bedford, Mass. in 1980 to join the old Evening Sun. He moved to the morning Sun when the papers merged in 1992, and has spent most of his time since covering science, including astronomy and the weather. One of The Baltimore Sun's first online Web logs, the Weather Blog debuted in October 2004. In June 2006 Frank also began writing comments on local weather and stargazing for The Baltimore Sun's print Weather Page. Frank also answers readers’ weather queries for the newspaper and the blog. Frank Roylance retired in October 2011. Maryland Weather is now being updated by members of The Baltimore Sun staff
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