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Monday, October 29, 2007

Weather and Climate : Tropical Storm Noel edges closer to Haiti

Haiti posted tropical storm warnings along its entire coastline and Cuba placed much of its eastern end under similar advisories Sunday as Tropical Storm Noel gained strength in the Caribbean Sea, forecasters reported.

National Hurricane Center forecasters are projecting Noel will pass over southern Haiti late Sunday and cross the eastern end of Cuba before turning northward toward the Bahamas.

At 5 p.m. ET Sunday, the storm had top winds of 60 mph (96 km/h) and was located about 125 miles (205 km) south-southeast of the Haitian capital Port au-Prince, moving north-northwest at nearly 5 mph.

Tropical storm force winds extend up to 115 miles (185 km) from the storm's center, the NHC reported.

Noel is the 14th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season. It is expected to dump heavy rains over southeastern Cuba, Jamaica and Hispaniola -- the island shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic -- with accumulations of 8 to 12 inches. Isolated areas could get 20 inches of rain.

"These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides," the NHC warned.The storm could drench Puerto Rico, as well, with 3 to 5 inches of rain, the center said.

Tropical storm warnings and a hurricane watch were posted for the southeastern Cuban provinces of Granma, Santiago de Cuba, Guantanamo and Holguin Sunday afternoon, and Jamaica was under a tropical storm watch.

In Haiti, a tropical storm warning was posted for the country's entire coast, and the NHC recommended warnings for the southern coast of the Dominican Republic as well

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