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Tropical Storm Emily barrels towards fragile Haiti
by Staff Writers
Port-Au-Prince (AFP) Aug 3, 2011

Haiti on Wednesday braced for incoming Tropical Storm Emily, urging evacuations ahead of a churning system that could bring flash floods to the nation still recovering from a massive earthquake.

A tropical storm warning was in effect for Haiti, the neighboring Dominican Republic, the US territory of Puerto Rico, the southeastern Bahamas, and the Turks and Caicos islands, the US National Hurricane Center said.

Haiti's weather service chief Ronald Semelfort said heavy rains could start pounding the country late Wednesday, warning such an outcome would be "a great danger for the country still fragile from the January 2010 earthquake."

Tens of thousands of Haitians remain in makeshift camps more than 18 months after the quake, which killed an estimated 225,000 people.

Authorities were spreading the word and "are asking people in refugee camps... to evacuate vulnerable locations," said Haiti's civil defense chief Alta Jean-Baptiste.

The Miami-based National Hurricane Center warned heavy rain from Emily could trigger deadly flash floods in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

Emily was forecast to drop between four and six inches (10 to 15 centimeters) of rain on Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, "with isolated maximum amounts of 10 inches possible," the NHC said.

"These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides in areas of mountainous terrain," the NHC said, warning of a storm surge of one to two feet that could generate "large and dangerous waves."

Haiti has in the past witnessed dozens of deadly landslides, with many of the hills which surround the capital stripped bare of trees.

At 1200 GMT, Emily was about 145 miles (230 kilometers) southeast of Santo Domingo, packing maximum sustained winds of 50 miles per hour as it took aim at the island of Hispaniola -- home to Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

"The center of Emily will move across Hispaniola late today and tonight," the NHC said.

The Dominican Republic declared an alert for portions of the country, called for mandatory evacuations in a dozen villages near dams and urged residents to take precautions in other areas.

"Residents in high-risk areas, who live next to rivers, streams and creeks... should take precautions and be aware of the recommendations of the relief agencies," the government's office of emergency services said.

A tropical storm watch was in effect for the central Bahamas.

In the Pacific Ocean, meanwhile, Hurricane Eugene -- a category three storm -- was churning away but still posed no threat to land, the NHC said.

At 0900 GMT, Eugene was around 570 miles (915 kilometers) southwest of the southern tip of Baja California, moving west-northwest into open waters with sustained winds of 115 miles (185 kilometers) per hour.

The NHC said Eugene was still a "major hurricane" but was expected to weaken later Wednesday.


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Eugene strengthens to hurricane in Pacific
Miami (AFP) Aug 1, 2011 - Eugene gathered strength in the Pacific to become the fifth hurricane of the season Monday, even though it was destined to remain far from the coasts of the Mexico, the National Hurricane Center said.

It had maximum sustained winds of 75 miles (120 kilometers) per hour and was moving west-northwest at 13 miles (20 kilometers) per hour with the center about 405 miles (650 kilometers) south of Zihuatanejo, Mexico, according to the NHC.

No coastal watches or warnings were in effect, but the weather experts warned that further strengthening could be expected.

Eugene is now a category one hurricane, but the hurricane center said there were no hazards currently to land.

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Tropical storm Don aims for Texas coast
Miami (AFP) July 28, 2011
Tropical storm Don strengthened slightly on Thursday as it churned through the Gulf of Mexico toward the southeast coast of Texas, the National Hurricane Center said. At 18h00 GMT on Thursday, Don was 475 miles (765 kilometers) from Corpus Christi and 430 miles from Brownsville, both on the Gulf coast. The storm was expected to make landfall Friday or Saturday. Maximum sustained winds ha ... read more

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