First effects from tropical storm expected today

Tropical Storm Isaac has turned slightly to the north, but local weather experts say the indirect effects will begun to be felt here today.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami expects the storm to turn further to the north and move directly through Haiti and Cuba before coming ashore in the Florida Panhandle.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said that the storm will strengthen the pattern of rain mainly in the south Pacific in the afternoon and evening. Strong downpours also are expected in the central and north Pacific.

Saturday and Sunday there will be a stronger effect with an increase in rain in the afternoon and evenings on the Pacific coast and in the Central Valley, said the weather institute.

The center of the storm is at 16.7 north latitude late Thursday, about a degree further north than it was late Wednesday. The weather system is completely in the Caribbean now. Costa Rica is between 8 and 11 degrees north latitude.

The storm is expected to be near or over Hispaniola today. That is the island shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The storm is moving just north of due west at 18 mph or 30 kph, said the Hurricane
Center. Weather experts expect the storm to become a hurricane by Saturday

An International Red Cross worker in Port au Prince, France Hurtubise, said Haiti remains especially vulnerable to the approaching storm because it has not recovered from a devastating 2010 earthquake.

“It is a huge, huge concern because there are still 400,000 people living under makeshift tents and not always in very good condition,” said Hurtubise.

In an interview, Hurtubise said relief workers are trying to evacuate as many people as possible from refugee camps.

Officials at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba postponed a hearing for five detainees charged in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks because of concerns about the approaching storm.

Also, organizers of next week’s Republican National Convention in Florida are keeping a watchful eye on Isaac. Thousands of people are expected to attend the four-day meeting in the city of Tampa where delegates plan to formally nominate former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney to challenge President Barack Obama in November’s presidential election.

A tropical depression in the mid-Atlantic, now named Joyce, is expected to swerve to the north and never touch land, according to the Hurricane Center.

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