If current weather models hold, a tropical storm (or quite possible a hurricane) could be crossing the ravaged Haitian landscape by late Friday night. The U.S. government advises outsiders to stay away.
Just before 11 a.m. Tuesday, the U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory, warning citizens against traveling to Haiti because of the ongoing activity of Tropical Storm Tomas. On Monday, Hurricane Tomas was downgraded as it churned away in the Caribbean, heading west, but forecasters are now projecting that the storm will arc north and then northeast, and could easily resume its hurricane status as it enters warmer waters.
(More at NewsFeed: Photos of Haiti’s tent cities, bracing for the rainy season)
With the storm on the horizon, the Guardian reports that aid organizations already on the ground are scrambling to prepare. A spokeswoman for the United Nations says that supply warehouses are being liquidated to rush materials to Haitians still living in camps – shelter that may well prove inadequate in a severe storm. In addition, aid organizations are reportedly lacking emergency shelter, as well as key water and sanitation supplies – meaning that if the storm does hit, aid groups may be in little position to help.
The United States naval vessel Iwo Jima is now moving towards Haiti, in anticipation of providing disaster relief. A direct hit by the storm would be the first major weather activity for the country since the January earthquake that killed 300,000 citizens. The last bout of severe weather in the nation was in 2008, when four storms hammered the country in the span of a month, killing 800.