The latest Tropical Storm, Hanna knocked out power to the southern Bahamas and authorities from Nassau to South Carolina warned residents to prepare for evacuation as it moved north, growing into a hurricane.
The storm, with winds near 65mph, turned to the north west after lingering for days near Haiti, where it caused flooding that killed 26 people.
Bahamas national security minister Tommy Turnquest cancelled all leave for the Bahamas Royal Defence Force to keep soldiers on standby for disaster response.
“I now urge the general public to take the necessary precautions,” Mr Turnquest said.
As Hanna took aim at the heart of the Atlantic archipelago, islanders were also tracking two other storms churning westward in the open ocean, including Hurricane Ike, which rapidly swelled early today into a ferocious Category 4 hurricane with winds near 135mph.
Ike was roaring far out in the Atlantic, 610 miles north east of the Leeward Islands, and forecasters said it was too early to say if the hurricane would threaten land. It is moving toward the west-north-west at 17mph.
Ike is the third major hurricane of the Atlantic season, which runs from June 1 to November 30, after Bertha and Gustav.
Forecasters say Josephine, the tropical storm behind Ike, is weakening.
“We’ve got three of them on the way. We’ve just got to be prepared,” said Frank Augustine, a 47-year convenience store manager, as he bought 10 five-gallon water jugs under blue skies at a Nassau depot.
Only a few dozen of the Bahamas’ roughly 700 islands are inhabited, but they are near sea level and have little natural protection. In the south, Hanna knocked out electricity in Mayaguana Island and forced the closure of some small airports including those in Long Island and Acklins Island.
The storm was expected to pass near or over the central Bahamas today before reaching hurricane strength. But the National Hurricane Centre in Miami warned its reach was expanding, with tropical-storm force winds extending up to 290 miles from the centre.
“Hanna has become a large tropical cyclone,” the centre said.
Early today Hanna was centred 355 miles east-south-east of Nassau. The hurricane centre said Hanna was moving north-north-west at 13mph and could become a hurricane today.
The US Hurricane Centre said a hurricane watch may be required for a portion of the south-eastern US today.
Long-range forecasts call for the storm to hit anywhere from Georgia to North Carolina on Saturday and curve along the US Atlantic coast.
South Carolina governor Mark Sanford said he was returning from the Republican convention in Minnesota to deal with the storm.
Who knows how he is going to stop it though!! 🙂