August 27, 2008

Storm Gustav’s Rain, Surf Pounding Haiti

Gustav, a tropical storm forecast to regain hurricane status, saturated Haiti and battered its coast Wednesday, U.S. forecasters in Miami said.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said at 2 p.m., the storm was moving west at about 5 mph about 140 miles west of Port au Prince, Haiti, and about 90 miles southeast of Guantanamo, Cuba.

Sustained winds were 60 mph with higher gusts. Winds have diminished since the storm made landfall Tuesday with 95 mph winds and forecasters said once Gustav was over open, warm waters again restrengthening to hurricane status was expected.

Warnings and watches were posted in the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Jamaica, along with warnings of "large and dangerous battering waves" accompanied by coastal storm surge flooding of 1 to 3 feet above normal tide levels.

"Gustav should pass between Jamaica and the southeastern coast of Cuba on Thursday," the report said. "However, any deviation to the left of the forecast track could bring the center of Gustav very near Jamaica."

The Jamaica Gleaner reported the government had activated national emergency operation centers Wednesday.

Forecasters warned of as much as 12 inches of rain from Gustav.