Storms Hanna, Ike, and Josephine Swirling In The Atlantic

September 3, 2008: – – Tropical Storm Hanna drenched the Bahamas and triggered deadly flooding in Haiti on Tuesday, as it headed for expected landfall in the southeastern USA later this week. Meanwhile, a new tropical storm, Josephine, formed off Africa, behind Tropical Storm Ike. Both were moving westward as Atlantic storm activity reached a frenetic pace just as Hurricane Gustav began to dissipate on Tuesday.

The flurry of storms was the latest evidence that predictions for a busier than normal season were on the mark. The US government has forecast that 14 to 18 tropical storms will form during the six-month Atlantic hurricane season that began on June 1, compared to a historical average of 10. Tropical Storm Josephine was already the 10th, forming before the statistical peak of the season on Sept. 10.

By early morning, Hurricane Hanna had weakened into a tropical storm as it swirled near Great Inagua Island in the Bahamas, but the weakening could be short-lived, the US National Hurricane Center said. It had 70 mile per hour (110 kph) winds, just short of being a Category 1 hurricane. Hanna was dumping torrential rains on the southeastern Bahamas where emergency officials warned of high seas.

In Haiti, authorities said heavy rains triggered by Hanna caused severe flooding in the northern port city of Gonaives, where thousands died four years ago during a similar catastrophe. “The city is flooded and there are parts where the water gets to 2 meters (6.5 feet),” said civil protection director Alta Jean-Baptiste. “A lot of people have been climbing onto the tops of their houses since last night to escape the flooding.”

Hanna is expected to regain hurricane strength in about 36 hours and to turn to the northwest and come ashore on the US East Coast at the end of the week somewhere between northern Florida and the Carolinas.

Tropical Storm Ike meanwhile headed westward after forming on Monday midway between Africa and the Caribbean and appeared likely to become a hurricane that would threaten the Caribbean islands and possibly the United States. It was too early to say where Ike might go. By 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT), Ike was located about 1,110 miles (1,785 km) east of the Leeward Islands and moving west at 18 mph (30 kph). Its top sustained winds had strengthened to 60 mph (95 kph) and were expected to reach hurricane strength of 74 mph (119 kph) by Wednesday.

Tropical Storm Josephine formed over the far eastern Atlantic about 125 miles (200 km) south-southwest of the Cape Verde Islands. It was moving west at 15 mph (24 kph), with top sustained winds of near 40 mph (65 kph) and was expected to be near hurricane strength on Wednesday or Thursday.