Tropical Storm Tomas Threatens Haiti

A weakened Tropical Storm Tomas could re-intensify into a rare November hurricane, the National Hurricane Center said Monday.

As of 11 a.m. Monday, the center of Tomas was about 90 miles (150 kilometers) north-northeast of the island of Curacao and about 420 miles (675 kilometers) southeast of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. It had maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (75 kph), with higher gusts, and was moving west-southwest at 14 mph (22 kph), CNN reports.

No coastal watches or warnings were in effect associated with Tomas, according to the Miami, Florida-based Hurricane Center. The storm is expected to continue westward over the next day or two and slow down.

Tracking maps show that Tomas could approach Haiti later in the week, possibly as a Category 1 hurricane. The storm could deal another blow to the island nation, which is still recovering from a devastating January earthquake and currently battling a cholera outbreak. But “Tomas could still hit anywhere from the Dominican Republic to eastern Cuba,” CNN meteorologist Taylor Ward said.

Tropical storm-force winds extend out 105 miles (165 kilometers) from Tomas’ center, mainly to the east, the Hurricane Center said.

Tomas is expected to continue weakening, but “restrengthening could begin by late Tuesday,” forecasters said.

The forecast track for Tomas, a storm which formed in late October, is typical for November hurricanes, CNN meteorologist Bonnie Schneider wrote on a blog for HLN’s “Morning Express.”

Although hurricanes are less likely to form in November, “the month isn’t always hurricane-free,” Schneider said. “Two fairly recent November hurricanes include Hurricane Lenny in 1999 and Hurricane Michelle in 2001.”

September is usually the most likely month for tropical storm formation, according to Schneider. But “often this time of year, the westerly wind is strong enough to steer the storms out to sea into the Atlantic, rather than northwestward into the Gulf of Mexico.”

The Atlantic hurricane season ends November 30.

Tomas lashed the Caribbean island of St. Vincent over the weekend, prompting about 1,000 people to enter shelters. Two people were injured, including one critically, when they tried to repair roof damage during the storm, said Michelle Forbes, acting director of National Emergency Management.

Tomas also left downed trees that blocked many roads, Forbes said, and large areas of the island lacked power. More than 100 homes sustained roof damage, she said, and authorities expected the number to rise.

For the original report go to http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/americas/11/01/tropical.weather/index.html?hpt=T2

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