cloudy
Monday May 25th, 2015 7:38PM

Isaac aims for Hispaniola, projections downgraded

By The Associated Press
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Tropical Storm Isaac strengthened slightly as it spun toward the Dominican Republic and Haiti, but seemed unlikely to gain enough steam early Friday to strike the island of Hispaniola as a hurricane.

The storm's failure to gain the kind of strength in the Caribbean that forecasters initially projected made it more likely that Isaac won't become a hurricane until it enters the Gulf of Mexico, said Eric Blake, a forecaster with U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

"We think it could become a hurricane on Monday," Blake said late Thursday. "It would be somewhere over the Gulf of Mexico."

The latest five-day forecast showed the storm's path shifting to the west, possibly making landfall near the Alabama-Mississippi border, Blake said. But he said it was "too early to know" the exact course and stressed that Florida's Gulf Coast, including Tampa, the site of next week's Republican National Convention, was still in the forecast cone.

The storm dumped heavy rain Thursday across eastern and southern Puerto Rico and whipped up waves as high as 10 feet (3 meters) in the Caribbean as it churned across the region.

Early Friday, Isaac was centered about 165 miles (265 kilometers) south of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and had maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (75 kph). It was moving west near 15 mph (24 kph), according to the hurricane center.

In flood-prone Haiti, Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe urged people to avoid crossing rivers, to tape their windows, and to stay calm, saying "panic creates more problems."

Lamothe and other Haitian officials said the government had set aside about $50,000 in emergency funds and had buses and 32 boats on standby for evacuations.

But among many Haitians, the notion of disaster preparedness in a country where most people get by on about $2 a day was met with a shrug.

"We don't have houses that can bear a hurricane," said Jeanette Lauredan, who lives in a tent camp in the crowded Delmas district of Port-au-Prince.

About 400,000 people remain in settlement camps comprised of shacks and tarps in the wake of Haiti's devastating 2010 earthquake.

So far, Isaac itself had caused no reported injuries or deaths, but police in Puerto Rico said a 75-year-old woman died near the capital of San Juan on Wednesday when she fell off a balcony while filling a drum with water in preparation for the storm.

In the Dominican Republic, authorities began to evacuate people from low-lying areas but encountered resistance.

"Nobody wants to leave their homes for fear they'll get robbed," said Francisco Mateo, community leader of the impoverished La Cienaga neighborhood in Santo Domingo, the capital.

The Dominican government planned to close all of the country's nine airports by dawn Friday, said Alejandro Herrera, civil aviation director. Schools closed by Thursday afternoon.

The storm's approach prompted military authorities at the U.S. base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to cancel pretrial hearings for five prisoners charged in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. They also evacuated about 200 people, including legal teams and relatives of Sept. 11 victims.

Blake, the U.S. forecaster, said that while Isaac hadn't strengthened much in the Caribbean, it could gain power as it moves away from Cuba. "When it moves back over water, it has a chance to restrengthen," he said.

Organizers of next week's Republican National Convention in Tampa were working closely with state and federal authorities on monitoring storm as they prepared for the arrival of 70,000 delegates, journalists and protesters.

"We continue to move forward with our planning and look forward to a successful convention," convention CEO William Harris said in a statement.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said RNC officials had consulted with state, local and federal authorities and there were no plans to cancel the convention.

Out in the eastern Atlantic, another tropical storm, Joyce, was downgraded to a tropical depression late Thursday, and posed no threat to land. The hurricane center in Miami said Joyce had maximum sustained winds of 35 mph (55 kph) and that it was becoming disorganized.
© Copyright 2015 AccessNorthGa.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Doctors: Blood clot located in Clinton's head
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton developed a blood clot in her head but did not suffer a stroke or neurological damage, her doctors said Monday. They say they are confident that she will make a full recovery.
3:55PM ( 2 years ago )
Illinois Sen. Kirk to return a year after stroke
Nearly a year after a stroke left him barely able to move the left side of his body, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk is expected to climb the 45 steps to the Senate's front door this week - a walk that's significant not just for Illinois' junior senator, but also for medical researchers and hundreds of thousands of stroke patients.
3:54PM ( 2 years ago )
U.S. News
Couch names administrative team
Ahead of his scheduled swearing in Friday, Hall County Sheriff-elect Gerald Couch named his top administrative team Monday.
6:28PM ( 2 years ago )
Tech beats Southern California in Sun Bowl
Tevin Washington threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score to help Georgia Tech beat Southern California 21-7 on Monday in the Sun Bowl.
5:54PM ( 2 years ago )
Hall Co. officials launch health-based initiative for employees
Hall County officials believe healthy county employees will be of greater service to the county. With that in mind, they have created a health-based fitness initiative to provide free fitness training for county workers.
5:46PM ( 2 years ago )
Local/State News
US rejects nuclear disarmament document over Israel concerns
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States on Friday blocked a global document aimed at ridding the world of nuclear weapons, saying Egypt and other states tried to "cynically manipulate" the process by...
9:33PM ( 2 days ago )
Obama again avoids calling 1915 Armenian killings 'genocide'
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will once again stop short of calling the 1915 massacre of Armenians a genocide, prompting anger and disappointment from those who have been pushing him to ful...
1:00PM ( 1 month ago )
Ex-NFL star Hernandez convicted of murder, sentenced to life
FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) — Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for a deadly late-night shooting, sealing the d...
8:54PM ( 1 month ago )
Clinton kicks off 2016 campaign online, heads next to Iowa
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton jumped back into presidential politics on Sunday, making a much-awaited announcement she will again seek the White House with a promise to serve as the "champi...
7:56PM ( 1 month ago )
Hall, White, Jefferson schools recognized nationally for use of technology
Three school districts in northeast Georgia - Hall, White, and Jefferson - have received national recognition for their use use of innovative technologies. They earned top spots in the Center for Digital Education's and the National School Boards Association's 10th annual Digital School Districts Survey.
By Staff
1:00PM ( 1 month ago )