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Tropical Storm Emily churns through Caribbean toward the U.S.

Emily, the fifth named storm of the season, could become a low-level hurricane as it heads toward Florida for a possible landfall over the weekend. Parts of the Southern and central U.S. prepare for more record heat.

August 03, 2011|By Michael Muskal, Los Angeles Times
  • A man fishes at the seafront in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Dominican authorities increased the warning levels with the approach of Tropical Storm Emily.
A man fishes at the seafront in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Dominican… (Orlando Barria / EPA )

Bringing drenching rains, Tropical Storm Emily crossed the Caribbean on Wednesday, heading for a possible landfall near Florida. Meanwhile, other parts of the South and central United States continued to bake in record high temperatures.

Emily, the fifth named storm of the season, was moving through the Caribbean at about 14 mph, the National Hurricane Center reported Wednesday. The storm was packing winds of better than 50 mph and could become a low-level hurricane as it moves over the weekend toward Florida.

Tropical storm warnings were in place across large sections of the northern Caribbean early Wednesday as Emily advanced toward the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the National Hurricane Center said.

Emily is expected to strengthen slightly before moving over Hispaniola, the island the nations share, by late Wednesday.

"Weakening is expected as the center moves over the high terrain of that island," the Miami-based hurricane center said. "Some re-strengthening is forecast after the center moves away from Hispaniola."

Tropical storm warnings were in effect for Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, the southeast Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands. A warning means tropical storm conditions are expected within the next 36 hours. As of Wednesday morning, the storm was 180 miles southeast of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, according to the weather center.

One danger is the heavy rains that bring flooding, a special danger in Haiti. In June, floods and mudslides in Port-au-Prince killed 23. Flooding could also worsen a cholera epidemic in Haiti, where 6,000 people have already died.

While Florida braced for a possible hurricane, elsewhere in the South and central states, people prepared to return to the griddle of record heat that that has devastated the region in recent weeks.

New records, in excess of 100 degrees, were predicted in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and elsewhere in the region. According to the National Weather Service website, excessive-heat warnings remain in effect for 12 states. At least 17 states, from Arizona to North Carolina, report heat advisories as well.

A heat warning means a long period of dangerously hot temperatures creating a heat index of at least 110 degrees. Those conditions can lead to heat exhaustion or stroke. People are urged to stay indoors in air-conditioning and to drink lots of fluids. A heat advisory is a slightly less elevated danger that means a period of hot temperatures is expected. People are also urged to stay indoors and drink fluids.

michael.muskal@latimes.com

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