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Caribbean: Escape from Tropical Storm Isaac

Caribbean netizens have their eye on Tropical Storm Isaac, the ninth such weather system for the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. (Its predecessor, Tropical Storm Helene, brought torrential rainfall to Trinidad and Tobago, which resulted in extensive flooding, landslips and some fatalities.) Isaac has been steadily moving up the Leeward Islands, and storm warnings and watches have been issued for Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

From Cuba, Havana Times has been charting the storm's path. Yesterday, the blog posted that Isaac was moving “towards a predicted landing in Haiti or the Dominican Republic by late Friday or Saturday”:

A hurricane warning is in effect for all of Haiti and portions of the DR, while a tropical storm alert is in effect for all of Puerto Rico.

Meanwhile, the Cuban Weather Service (INSMET) is advising caution, stating the storm could present a threat to Cuba.

In the U.S. Virgin Islands, News of St. John reported that people were being asked to prepare “for tropical storm conditions beginning Wednesday with torrential downpours, gusty thunderstorms and building seas”, although the storm was predicted to pass south-west of the island. In nearby St. Thomas, bloggers were also “battening down the hatches”. Yesterday, the St. Thomas-based blogger, Captain Jay, reported “hot and sticky” weather…

with some heavy rain and winds gusting into the thirty plus mile per hour range. It doesn't look like much damage from here. This one has left us alone.

Then he quipped:

I think God has other plans for Isaac, thinking he might drop a message on the Republican National Convention in Tampa Bay next week. Just saying.

News of St. John, in an update earlier today, also had little damage to report, but linked to video of the storm's “winds – er, strong breezes”, here, here and here. There was also a video of the storm's effects in Guadeloupe, posted here.

Understandably, there is concern for the effects the storm may have on Haiti, as much of its population in Port-au-Prince is still living in tent cities after the devastating effects of the 2010 earthquake. The country has weathered storms before, of course, but the Livesay Haiti Weblog explained it this way:

Nobody needs this, especially not the left-half of Hispaniola.
Hoping and praying it shoots off into the Caribbean and leaves the islands alone.

Haiti Chery thought that the Haitian government was not doing as much as it could given the circumstances:

For Haiti and the Dominican Republic’s southern coast, a hurricane warning is in effect. Such a warning means that both countries should be urgently preparing to protect life and property.

In Haiti, the storm is expected to make a direct hit on the area including Jacmel, the Ile de la Gonave, and the populous capital city of Port-au-Prince where about half a million people still live under tents. So far, the National Center for Meteorology (CNM, Centre National de Météorologie)…and the government have merely issued color-coded alerts and warnings to avoid rivers and windows.

The heavy precipitation might cause flash floods and mud slides. On the coasts, there will be dangerous waves, and storm surges could raise the waters 3 to 5 feet above the normal tide levels.

Already there is talk of a resurgence of cholera with this coming storm; but contaminated drinking water causes cholera, not hurricanes. It behooves the Haitian health officials to take full responsibility for guaranteeing that all emergency bottled water distributed during the storm is verified as being safe to drink.

The post went on to give regular weather reports. In an updated blog entry today, Dady Chery said, tongue firmly in cheek:

Haitian government officials finally did something about Tropical Storm Isaac. They gathered 32 boats and 1250 temporary shelters as peace offerings to the storm gods. Then they gave a press conference at which they demanded that all those in charge of safety — whoever they might be — do their jobs, whatever these might be… like, help Haitians through ravines, for instance.

At the least, this keeps people too busy to ask the government officials to do their jobs.

The storm gods listened to all that the Haitians had to say. Then they went and listened as closely to ABC News, which prayed dearly for the winds and rain to make a mess of the Republican National Convention in Tampa. Feeling unwanted in Haiti but welcome in Florida, the gods held a congress and made their decision. They would sail their 32 boats to Tampa.

And this is how Isaac disappeared from the Caribbean Sea to reemerge as a category 3 hurricane directly over the GOP National Convention. In the U.S., it was all news, all weather, all the time. In Haiti, it was a beautiful, drizzly, carnival night! A miracle.

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