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Haiti and Dominican Republic issue red alerts as reports detail Elsa's damage in Caribbean

Jacqueline Charles and Syra Ortiz-Blanes, The Miami Herald on

Published in Weather News

In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, where 2,000 people were already in shelters from the erupting La Soufrière volcano, authorities reported downed power lines, roof damages to at least 43 homes and a partly damaged bridge.

With the system now aimed at Haiti, Riley said they were in ongoing conversations with the country’s Office of Civil Protection for guidance if a humanitarian response is needed.

“We are looking at the situation with the system itself, because the system and the characteristics of the system help to paint the kind of scenario that could potentially play out in terms of impact,” she said. “Haiti has certainly faced Category 1 systems before and the national level systems, I would say have become more robust of the year.”

“The forward speed of the system is of assistance to us,” she added about Elsa. “it’s still quite quick for a cyclone. The faster the system passes through, the general rule of thumb is the less damage it’s likely to cause compared to if it had a slower movement.”

At 8 a.m. Saturday, the National Hurricane Center said the center of the hurricane was located 110 miles southeast of Isla Beata, Dominican Republic, and about 440 miles east-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica. The storm was moving toward the west-northwest at around 31 mph and had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph.

By the 11 a.m. advisory, the National Hurricane Center said Elsa had weakened and downgraded it to a tropical storm. It had maximum sustained winds of 70 mph and was moving west northwest at 29 mph, about 40 miles south of Isla Beata in the Dominican Republic and about 350 miles east of Kingston, Jamaica. Tropical storm level winds extended 125 miles from the center.

 

Like Haiti, the Dominican Republic’s Center of Emergency Operations warned residents the country could experience the possible flooding of rivers, streams and ravines.

The Dominican’s Center of Emergency Operations elevated the number of provinces that were on red alert from five to nine on Friday night. Those provinces are Barahona, Pedernales, Peravia, Azua, San Cristóbal, San José de Ocoa, Santo Domingo, Distrito Nacional and San Pedro de Macorís. All of them are concentrated toward the south of Hispaniola, which is closest to the path of Elsa.

Early Saturday, the weather over Haiti was partly cloudy with moderately strong winds and with a few stronger gusts. But Joseph, the prime minister, reported that regions had already experienced rainfall.

Vulnerable to any heavy rainfall, Haiti is forecast to receive cumulative rainfall of 4 to 6 inches of rain — or even 8 inches on the mountains including the La Selle mountain range, La Hotte and the La Gonâve. Strong wind gusts ranging from 73 mph and 80 mph, as well as dangerous sea conditions, were in the forecast. All could cause severe flooding, flash floods, mudslides and coastal flooding in the southern regions of the country, Haiti’s emergency disaster agency warned.

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