Haiti braces for Grace, Florida will get prepared for Fred as storms brew

Satellite image of Tropical Storm Grace approaching Haiti on August 16, 2021.

NOAA

Tropical Depression Grace soaked earthquake-damaged Haiti on Monday and threatens to pour up to 38 centimeters of rain on a landscape in which people huddle together in fields looking for survivors of a 7.2 magnitude earthquake. Tropical storm Fred intensified off the northwest coast of Florida, where forecasters said it could hit land by Monday evening.

Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft found Fred’s maximum sustained winds increasing to nearly 60 mph (97 km / h) and the tropical storm shifting eastward. At 8:00 a.m. EDT it was 90 miles (145 km) south-southwest of Apalachicola, Florida and moving north at 9 mph (15 km / h).

The US National Hurricane Center said Fred’s main threats were rain – between four and eight inches for Florida’s Big Bend and Panhandle – and storm surges. Floods between 1 and 1.5 meters could enter the area between Indian Pass and the Steinhatchee River, depending on the tide at the time Fred arrived.

Grace moved across Hispaniola Monday after raining in Puerto Rico. With up to 25 centimeters of continuous rain and more in isolated areas, flash floods and mudslides were possible in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Haitians along the southern peninsula, which bears the brunt of the weather, are grappling with the effects of Saturday’s 7.2 magnitude earthquake, which has already been blamed for nearly 1,300 deaths.

Grace was centered 160 miles (260 kilometers) east-southeast of Port-au-Prince, Haiti and moving west at 15 miles an hour. The top wind has been forecast to stay at around 55 km / h until it approaches Jamaica on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the eighth tropical depression of the season formed near Bermuda on late Sunday, and the hurricane center predicted it would turn into a tropical storm sometime on Monday as it orbits the island about 190 kilometers offshore. A tropical storm watch was in effect on the island when the system’s peak winds rose to around 55 km / h.

Lifeguards have hoisted double red flags along Panama City Beach in Florida’s Panhandle to warn beachgoers not to enter the Gulf of Mexico. The area was preparing for rain and some wind from the storm, and although evacuations were not ordered, schools and government offices were closed on Monday.

On the Alabama coast, the city of Orange Beach offered sand and sacks to residents worried about flooding. Half a dozen school systems closed Monday in southeast Alabama, where up to six inches of rain was possible, and a large church was opened as a shelter.

“We’ve certainly got it a lot worse, but that’s no reason to be complacent,” said Florida Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford. “The fewer people there are, the better. We expect heavy rain from this storm.”

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