Haiti braces for tropical storm, Florida could be in path

Haiti on Friday braced for Tropical Storm Laura, which could bring heavy rains and high winds to the Caribbean nation before eventually making landfall as a hurricane in Florida.

The Atlantic storm season could be one of the busiest ever this year, with the US National Hurricane Center predicting as many as 25 named storms.

Laura is the 12th so far, and the season runs through November 30.

In Haiti, authorities raised an orange alert, shutting down all coastal navigation.

“Heavy and stormy rains are liable to cause rising water levels and flooding, with landslides expected first of all across the north and then in the entire country,” meteorologists said.

“Strong gusts of wind and high seas are also expected,” the country’s weather service said.

Laura is expected to hit the Lesser Antilles late Friday before passing Puerto Rico on Saturday and heading for Hispaniola, the island that is home to Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

On Wednesday, 14 people died when a makeshift sailing vessel sank while navigating the stretch of water between Haiti and Tortuga island, off its north coast.

The US National Hurricane Center said while the longer-range forecast remains “more uncertain,” the storm could reach hurricane strength off the Florida coast early next week, after moving past Cuba and the Bahamas.

Another as yet unnamed tropical depression, known so far as TD-14, was forming across the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Central America Friday, and was expected to move north toward the Texas coastline. (AFP)

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