Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Hanna May Become Hurricane Tomorrow, Aim at U.S. East Coast

Hanna May Become Hurricane Tomorrow, Aim at U.S. East Coast

By Demian McLean

Sept. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Tropical Storm Hanna may strengthen into a hurricane tomorrow and aim at the southeast coast of the U.S. later this week, after lashing Haiti and the Bahamas with torrential rains.

Farther east in the Atlantic Ocean, Ike strengthened into the season's fifth hurricane, with 80 mph (129 kph) winds.

Hanna was spinning in the Atlantic off Hispaniola's northern coast as of 5 p.m. Miami time, heading to the east of the central Bahamas, the National Hurricane Center said. Destructive winds extended 290 miles from the center, with sustained speeds of about 60 mph.

``Swells from Hanna are expected to increase the risk of dangerous rip currents along portions of the southeastern United States coast during the next couple of days,'' the hurricane center said in its advisory.

As much as 15 inches (38 centimeters) of rain is forecast to fall in Puerto Rico, as well as in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, where they may unleash life-threatening mudslides and flash floods, the advisory said.

Hanna may hit the U.S. East Coast this weekend in the Carolinas, then sweep northeast.

Florida declared an emergency as Hanna approached, and residents of Georgia were advised to monitor the storm's progress.

Hanna killed at least 26 people in Haiti, Agence France- Presse reported. The western hemisphere's poorest nation and neighboring Dominican Republic have been hit by Tropical Storm Fay and Hurricane Gustav in the past three weeks.

Haiti Flooding

Rains from Hanna had completely flooded Gonaives, a city of 300,000 people north of the capital Port-au-Prince, AFP reported.

Ike's winds strengthened from 70 mph a few hours earlier, crossing the threshold of 74 mph at which the system becomes a Category 1 hurricane, the center said.

The system was about 670 miles east-northeast of the Leeward Islands and moving west-northwest at about 18 mph. It is forecast to strengthen further in the next day and be northeast of Hispaniola by the weekend.

Tropical Storm Josephine weakened in the eastern Atlantic Ocean, 375 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands. Its winds slowed to 60 mph from 65 mph.

To contact the reporter on this story: Demian McLean in Washington at
Last Updated: September 3, 2008 17:18 EDT

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