Tomas weakens, but still a threat to Haiti
Tomas, weakened from its former Cat. 2 hurricane strength to a minimal tropical storm, is still expected to regain some of that strength and turn toward Haiti as a Cat. 1 hurricane by Friday morning.
The island nation has been advised to monitor the storm. And UN officials said more than a million Haitians are still living under tents and tarpaulins. A half-hour storm in September killed six people, injured 70 and damaged or destroyed the flimsy homes of 10,000 families, according to a wire service report. Evacuation of the vulnerable quake-refugee camps has been deemed impossible.
The National Hurricane Center said this morning that Tomas was about 420 miles southeast of Port au Prince, Haiti, in the eastern Caribbean Sea, moving to the west southwest at 14 mph. The storm's top sustained winds were just 45 mph.
But forecasters said re-strengthening could begin late on Tuesday, and a turn to the north could come by Thursday as the storm encounters a low-pressure system in the northwest Caribbean. Forecasters estimate a 36 percent chance that Port au Prince will see tropical-storm-force winds within five days.
High winds and heavy rains could be devastating for Haiti's people, many of whom have been living in makeshift shelters since last January's earthquake, Some are also coping with an outbreak of water-borne disease, including cholera.