Tropical Storm Gustav gaining strength
UPDATE 5:00 EDT: Here's the latest public storm advisory:
Gustav continues moving northwestward toward Hispaniola.
A hurricane warning remains in effect for the south coast of the Dominican Republic from Barahona westward to the southern border of Haiti, and for the southern border with the Dominican Republic and Port Au Prince westward.
A hurricane watch remains in effect for Haiti from north of Port Au Prince to the northern border of the Dominican Republic.
A tropical storm warning remains in effect for the south coast of the Dominican Republic east of Barahona to Santa Domingo.
Status: Tropical Storm
Movement: Northwest near 12 mph
Latest position: About 165 miles south-southeast of Port Au Prince, Haiti
Latest wind speed: Max near 60 mph
The Atlantic season's seventh tropical storm is strengthening in the Caribbean and is expected to hit Haiti Tuesday morning, followed by Cuba, the Bahamas, and Florida.
Many fear the storm will trigger floods and mudslides in a country particularly vulnerable and still recovering from the passage of Tropical Storm Fay.
Disconcertingly, the AP reports that word about the storm may not be getting out in Haiti as quickly as necessary.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haitians were told to prepare for evacuations as Tropical Storm Gustav formed quickly in the Caribbean Monday on a path to hit the country's denuded southern coast as a full hurricane Tuesday morning before moving on to Cuba, the Bahamas and Florida.
Haiti upgraded storm warnings to hurricane warnings across much of Haiti Monday as Gustav roared up from the south.
By 2 p.m. Monday, reports from an Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicated that top sustained winds had already reached nearly 60 mph (97 kph) as Gustav moved northwest, the Miami-based National Hurricane center said.
Floods and landslides were possible across Haiti's southern peninsula, and the forecasts suggested that the eye could pass very closely to Haiti's capital of Port-au-Prince, home to nearly 3 million people.
Residents were told to stay on alert for evacuations and to avoid crossing flooded rivers, the cause of nearly all 23 deaths on Hispaniola during last week's Tropical Storm Fay.
Few people in Haiti's capital seemed aware of the brewing storm as rumors grew of new protests against high food and education prices planned for this week. Haitian radio reported that a handful of protesters burned tires Monday in Les Cayes, a town in the southwest.
"I didn't know there was a tropical storm coming," said Dunis Amilca, a 29-year-old resident of the oceanside Port-au-Prince slum of Cite Soleil. "I'm just going to stay in my house and watch out for it."