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November 4, 2010 / Dave Gorham

Devastating Setup for Haiti

ImpactWeather projects that Tropical Storm Tomas will reach a level of 5 out of 50 on the Hurricane Severity Index but its path is what most concerns me. Still reeling from the January 12th earthquake and 50+ aftershocks, Haiti is still deeply entrenched in a housing crisis with estimates that more than a million and a half people are still living in tents.

Haitian tent camp. Photo: blogfxfowle.com

What concerns me is that, although not a very intense storm, Tomas is moving fairly slowly – just 6 to 8mph – and this increases the potential for a prolonged presence over the island which could result in long stretches of rain and severe flooding.  Because of the detrimental effects that increased upper-level wind shear have had on the storm itself, ImpactWeather Lead Hurricane Forecaster Chris Herbert doesn’t anticipate that the maximum forecasted winds will exceed 65mph.  However, “Regardless of the intensity, heavy squalls will spread across Jamaica later today, and Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic by late today or early tomorrow.”

Tomas, current and future. Graphic: ImpactWeather Gmaps 2.0

Isolated rainfall totals are expected to reach 15 inches and that’s a bleak setup.  I remember the havoc wrought nine years ago by Tropical Storm Allison when it dumped more than 40 inches of rain over southeast Texas killing 23 people and we, of course, are in far better shape than Haiti is.  Keep a good thought that it doesn’t play out as badly as it could.

Read more about the HSI and consider lending a hand to the people of Haiti.

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