Tropical storm Hanna hit the border of South and North Carolina on Saturday, US meteorologists announced. A severe hurricane season has wreaked havoc leaving more than 500 dead in Haiti.
SALVO, N.C. - Tropical Storm Hanna sloshed ashore along the U.S. Atlantic Coast between the border of South and North Carolina early on Saturday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
Hanna, packing winds just shy of Category 1 hurricane strength, was forecast to move rapidly northeast along the East Coast during the weekend, bringing heavy rains and a risk of flash flooding to the mid-Atlantic states and southern New England.
Hurricane Ike, still an extremely dangerous Category 3 storm, churned in the open Atlantic toward south Florida and the oil fields of the Gulf of Mexico, the center said.
Ahead of Hanna's landfall, authorities on Friday had declared states of emergency, several North Carolina beach communities were under evacuation orders, campgrounds were shut and storm alerts were issued from Georgia to New Jersey.
The center of Hanna reached the Carolina coast at 3:20 a.m. (0720 GMT) and raced north at 21 mph (34 kph) with top winds of 70 mph (115 kph), the center said. It was expected to drench cities and communities from Washington to New York over the next few days.
Ike was far more threatening than Hanna because its top sustained winds of 115 mph (185 kph) threatened the Gulf Coast's nearly 4,000 offshore platforms that produce a quarter of U.S. crude oil and 15 percent of the country's natural gas.
Ike had weakened from a Category 4 hurricane on the five-step Saffir Simpson scale on Friday.
The hurricane center said at 2 a.m. (0600 GMT) that Ike was spinning 330 miles (530 km) east-northeast of Grand Turk Island and was expected to sweep westward near or over the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southern Bahamas by Sunday.
The Bahamian government sent soldiers and emergency supplies to Mayaguana and San Salvador, southern islands left short of food and water by an overdue mail boat.
"If we have heavy flooding and lose power, we could be in an uncomfortable situation," said chief councilor Earnel Brown of the island of Mayaguana.
Some further weakening was possible but the hurricane center said Ike was expected to remain a "major" storm of Category 3 or higher.
Visitors were ordered to evacuate the Keys on Saturday and residents were ordered out beginning on Sunday.
ORDERS TO LEAVE THE COAST
Some computer models took Ike near the heavily populated Miami area in southeast Florida, where up to 1.3 million people could be ordered to leave the coast.
"It's a lot coming at us. But we must remain vigilant, focused and calm," Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said.
A Category 4 hurricane strike on Miami would be a huge disaster because of the billions of dollars of vulnerable real estate in low-lying islands like Miami Beach and along the coast of the Florida peninsula.
Other computer models took Ike directly over Cuba, where Hurricane Gustav inflicted damage that former President Fidel Castro compared to the aftermath of a nuclear bomb.
Tropical Storm Josephine weakened into a tropical depression far out in the Atlantic, knocking out the weakest of three storms that followed Hurricane Gustav's rampage through the Caribbean to Louisiana.
Gustav came ashore on Monday west of New Orleans, largely sparing the city devastated by Hurricane Katrina three years ago.
The flurry underscored predictions for an unusually busy six-month hurricane season. An average season has 10 tropical storms, of which six strengthen into hurricanes with top sustained winds of at least 74 mph (119 kph). Josephine was already this year's 10th, and the statistical Sept. 10 peak of the storm season still lies ahead.
Police Commissioner Ernst Dorfeuille said 495 bodies had been found in the mud-heaped port city of Gonaives, where thousands survived by climbing on rooftops. That brought the toll for all of Haiti to at least 529.
Date created : 2008-09-06