Sunday, September 19, 2004

TROPICAL STORM JEANNE can't decide what it is going to do next

Tropical storm Jeanne or Hurricane Jeanne???
Head for Florida or head out to sea???

MIAMI - (KRT) - Tropical Storm Jeanne edged away from the southeastern Bahamas and, to some extent, became lost at sea Saturday. Forecasters acknowledged they could not reliably predict its next move.

The possibilities ranged from the best case - a sharp turn northeast and away from land - to the worst case - an advance on Florida or another state in the Southeast. The most likely outcome appeared to be a slow, indecisive cruise northward, at least temporarily away from the Bahamas and Florida.

"It is probably obvious that this is not a high confidence forecast," said hurricane specialist James Franklin of the National Hurricane Center in West Miami-Dade County.

At issue was a complicated atmospheric ballet between Jeanne, the remnants of Ivan and a large high pressure system. Each of a dozen computerized forecast models predicted a different outcome.

At any rate, the southeastern Bahamas were under a tropical storm warning. Residents of the Acklins, Crooked Island, the Inaguas, the Ragged Islands and Mayaguana shuttered homes and businesses.

"We boarded up," said Eleanor Walkine, who along with her husband, Kirk, owns the five-room Walkine Guest House in Matthew Town, on Great Inagua, an island of 1,200 residents. "People are concerned about it."

Last week, Jeanne swept across Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, killing eight people, flooding roads and homes, and causing wide-ranging power outages.

President Bush declared Puerto Rico a disaster area Saturday, freeing up emergency funds.
Knight Ridder Newspapers