TORONTO — The news reports coming in from Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands are heartbreaking, and the images even more so.
Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami said that another tropical depression in the Gulf of Mexico could hit northern Florida as a tropical storm later in the week and possibly head toward the Atlantic coast. They cautioned that the storm’s exact path remained uncertain days in advance, but the storm was becoming better organized Monday night.
The depression was about 495 kilometres west of Key West, Florida, with maximum winds of 55 kph. It was moving west, but forecasters expect it could curve back to the northeast in the coming days. Authorities at some locations in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area of Florida were hauling out sandbags Monday to offer residents amid predictions of heavy rains.
A tropical weather system off the coast of North Carolina’s Outer Banks is expected to strengthen in the next day, bringing strong winds and heavy rains that could flood low-lying areas, officials said.
By Tuesday morning, the tropical depression was about 135 kilometres south-southeast of Cape Hatteras and was expected to become a tropical storm Tuesday afternoon but not grow any stronger. Warnings has been issued for areas of the coast from Cape Lookout to the Oregon Inlet along North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
Beachgoers, boat captains and business owners waited warily for the storm to wash out one of the summer’s last busy weeks. But tourists are taking the approaching storm in stride.
The Central Pacific Hurricane Center on Monday issued a hurricane watch for the Big Island of Hawaii, saying Hurricane Madeline could pass “dangerously close.”
The storm should be near or over the Big Island by Wednesday, said forecaster Derek Wroe.
At 11 p.m. Monday (2 a.m. PDT Tuesday), the centre said the storm had strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 130 mph. But it added that some weakening is forecast through late Wednesday.
Residents could experience hurricane force winds, heavy rain and high surf, the Center said.
Hawaii County, which covers the Big Island, urged residents to restock their emergency kits with a flashlight, fresh batteries, cash and first aid supplies.
A typhoon slammed into northern Japan on Tuesday evening, threatening to bring floods to an area still recovering from the 2011 tsunami.
Typhoon Lionrock made landfall near the city of Ofunato, about 500 kilometres northeast of Tokyo. It’s the first time a typhoon has made landfall in the northern region since 1951, when the Japan Meteorological Agency started keeping records.
Even before it made landfall, the storm had already paralyzed traffic, caused blackouts and prompted officials to urge more than 170,000 residents to evacuate.
Major airlines cancelled more than 100 flights to and from the northern region. Bullet train services in the Tohoku and Hokkaido regions were suspended.