It may not have reached hurricane strength, but tropical storm Noel has piled up a lengthening list of death and destruction, as it heads towards the Bahamas.
The slow moving storm caused the deaths of at least 40 people in the Dominican Republic, where another 25,000 have been left homeless. 20 persons lost their lives in Haiti, mainly from mudslides and flash floods, and one death is reported in Jamaica. No deaths have been reported from Cuba, despite the fact the Noel lingered over the eastern portion of the island for more than 24 hours.
The latest bulletin from Miami’s National Hurricane Center indicates that Noel is continuing to move “slowly northward. A tropical storm warning has been issued for the southeastern coast of Florida, and a hurricane watch remains in effect for the northwestern Bahamas.”
While the center of the storm should pass well to the east of Florida, it is expected to bring heavy rains, winds and high tides to the area. Noel’s full force is expected to strike the Bahamas late tonight.
As of 5:00 a.m. ET today, the storm’s center was located about 115 miles (185 kms) southwest of Nassau and about 180 miles (290 kms) southeast of Miami. “Noel is moving erratically toward the north near 6 mph (9 km/hr), said the NHC. “A slow northward motion is expected today with a turn toward the northeast expected tonight.”
Maximum sustained winds are near 60 mph (95 km/hr) with higher gusts, but the NHC indicated that “some strengthening is forecast during the next 24 hours.” Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 130 miles (215 kms) from the center. Noel is also expected to drop between 5 to 10 inches (12.7 to 25.4 cms) of rainfall in affected areas with possible maximum amounts of 15 inches (38 cms).
Source: News reports and National Hurricane Center – http://www.nhc.noaa.gov
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