Sunday, September 30, 2007

WEATHER

Hurricane Dean turns deadly

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Tens of thousands fled homes and hotels in the Caribbean Saturday as hurricane Dean turned deadly, killing a boy in the Dominican Republic as it roared head-on towards Haiti and Jamaica.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


Tens of thousands fled homes and hotels in the Caribbean Saturday as hurricane Dean turned deadly, killing a boy in the Dominican Republic as it roared head-on towards Haiti and Jamaica.
  
Tourists fled resorts in the path of the storm and island residents battened down as the massive swell skirted the Dominican Republic and plowed towards its dirt-poor neighbor Haiti, Jamaica, the Caymans and the Mexican coast.
  
A boy of 16 was reported dead and several injured in the Dominican Republic as Dean swept by to the south, sending great waves crashing onto its shores, the governor of eastern Santo Domingo province Eladio Martinez said on radio.
  
Haiti ordered flights and coastal shipping suspended through Sunday and prepared to evacuate seaside regions in Dean's path as the storm appeared poised to hit the island at midday Sunday.
  
"Arrangements have been made to evacuate people living in the zones at risk and shelter has been sought in other areas," a civil defense official there said.
  
Jamaica, dead at the center of the storm's expected track, went on full alert, closing down airports, as hundreds of thousands flocked to markets and petrol stations to stock up on essentials.
  
And in Quintana Roo state on the eastern side of Mexico's Yucatan peninsula, home to the famed Cozumel and Cancun resorts, officials began evacuating some 80,000 tourists -- just two years after mega-hurricane Wilma devastated the region.
  
With sustained winds hitting 240 kilometers (150 miles) per hour, Dean was characterized Saturday by the NHC as an "extremely dangerous hurricane."
  
"Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion," it warned.
  
It hovered just under the threshold of a monster category five storm as it moved toward southern Haiti, which ordered a red alert fearing a direct hit.
  
Category five hurricanes can bring huge storm surges of 5.5 meters (18 feet) or more and can require the massive evacuation of areas as far inland as 10 kilometers (six miles).
  
Dean was moving west at 28 kilometers (17 miles) per hour and was forecast to move to a northwesterly track in the next 24 hours, passing close to Haiti's southwest tip late Saturday before moving directly toward Jamaica on Sunday.
  
It was also on direct course for the Cayman Islands and then forecast to move to the resort region of northern Yucatan.
  
In Jamaica, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller called on all off-duty police officers, firefighters and prison warders to report for work in an effort to reinforce security and rescue operations.
  
Curfews of 48 hours (6:00pm Saturday-Monday) were imposed in a number of areas, mandatory evacuation of low lying and flood prone areas was ordered, and the country's two main airports in Port-Au-Prince and Montego Bay were closed.
  
Jamaican television showed long lines at gas stations and empty shelves in super markets as consumers prepared for what could be days of heavy rain.
  
Also on Saturday the White House said it was ready with aid for Jamaica if needed in the wake of the hurricane.
  
In Cuba just to the north, authorities began evacuating tens of thousands of people in six eastern provinces to save them from possible flooding and destruction as the storm sweeps by.
  
The civil defense authorities said 35,000 people were targeted by the evacuation order in the southeastern province of Holguin alone. Tourist programs were also suspended across the island, it said.
  
In Mexico the government called a state of emergency and state oil company Pemex launched its hurricane response plan, shutting down production platforms and evacuating personnel, as Dean appeared headed toward its southern Gulf of Mexico oilfields and the refining center of Tampico.
  
Quintana Roo Governor Felix Gonzalez ordered the evacuation of the 80,000 tourists from Cancun and other popular barrier islands of the "Mayan Riviera" and blocked the further arrival of more tourists to the area.
  
"We can evacuate 30,000 tourists by air every day. That gives us enough time to leave hotel occupancy at a minimum, with a reasonable number of guests we can assist and put up in shelters" when the storm strikes, Gonzalez said.
  
In 2005 Wilma, one of the strongest hurricanes ever, made a direct hit on Cancun and Cozumel and held over the area for hours, wiping out hotels and beaches that have still not been totally rebuilt since.
  
With Dean currently expected to pass south of the United States, the Houston, Texas-based mission control of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration meanwhile moved to speed up the current space shuttle mission.
DATELINE:20070818T214947-0400

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