Fred drenches US Southeast; Grace lashes quake-hit Haiti
Crews worked to repair downed power lines and clear toppled trees after Tropical Storm Fred move over the Florida Panhandle and trekked inland early Tuesday, spreading heavy rains and a flood threat into the U.S. Southeast.
Authorities warned of the risk of scattered urban and flash floods from a drenching by Fred, even as it weakened while crossing land. No deaths have been reported from the storm, though thousands of Florida residents were reported without power in the hours after landfall.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Fred crashed ashore Monday afternoon near Cape San Blas in Florida and added it had picked up some speed and weakened some as it move across southeast Alabama late Monday night. A forecast tracked showed the storm would head Tuesday across western and north Georgia and then into the southern Appalachians on Tuesday night.
Top sustained winds dropped to 40 mph (65 kph) overnight and Fred was moving north-northeast at 12 mph (19 kph). Fred was expected to bring heavy rains to a swath of several Southeasteren states on its march north.
Forecasters expected Fred to drop 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters) from Alabama across Florida’s Big Bend and Panhandle, and even a foot (30 centimeters) of rain in isolated spots. They also warned Fred could eventually dump heavy rain into the mid-Atlantic states, possibly causing flash floods as some rivers overflow and even landslides in the Blue Ridge mountains.
Meanwhile, Tropical Depression Grace drenched earthquake-damaged Haiti on Monday, dumping up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain on a landscape where people are huddling in fields and searching for survivors. The storm couldn't have come at a worse time for Haitians struggling to deal with the effects of Saturday's 7.2 magnitude earthquake, blamed for an estimated 1,300 deaths. Grace was expected to become a tropical storm again as it passes between Cuba and Jamaica on Tuesday and could be near hurricane strength when it approaches Mexico's Yucatan peninsula Wednesday night.
Tropical Storm Henri formed Monday southeast of Bermuda and was about 140 miles (230 kilometers) southeast of that island late Monday night. The storm had 45 mph (75 kph) winds and was moving south-southwest at 5 mph (7kph). A tropical storm watch was in effect for the island.
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