Unfortunately, a worst-case scenario is unfolding for hard-hit Haiti as Grace, now a Tropical Depression, is expected to pass directly over the epicenter area of Saturday’s large 7.2 earthquake.
At 8:29 am local time, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck the Tiburon Peninsula in the Caribbean nation of Haiti on the island of Hispaniola near Petit-Trou-de-Nippes, approximately 90 miles west of the capital, Port-au-Prince. As of the time this article was published, 12,000 buildings were reported damaged or destroyed by the earthquake as the death toll climbs to 1,297.
While people are still dealing with the catastrophic aftermath of the earthquake, Tropical Depression Grace is about to hit the same area. According to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, heavy rainfall across the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica, and the Cayman Islands may lead to flash, urban, and small stream flooding, with the potential for mudslides highest in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Flooding rains and gusty winds may also help topple already-compromised structures in earthquake-hit Haiti.
Tropical Depression Grace is expected to re-intensify to a tropical storm by tomorrow morning. Because of that, the National Hurricane Center says that tropical storm conditions are possible over portions of Hispaniola today and tonight.
Before Grace exits the Dominican Republic and Haiti, 5-10″ of rain is expected with isolated maximum totals of 15″ possible in the earthquake impact zone. This heavy rainfall may lead to flash and urban flooding, and possible mudslides.
Beyond tonight, Grace is expected to impact Jamaica with tropical storm conditions tomorrow. An earthquake impacted the south coast of Jamaica today, but unlike Haiti, there’s no reports of damage or deaths at this time. While there’s no earthquake aftermath to deal with in Jamaica, Grace could bring flooding rains and the threat of rock slides to the island as it moves west towards the Yucatan Peninsula.
Tropical storm conditions are also expected over portions of the southern coast of Cuba on Tuesday, spreading westward to the Cayman Islands and other portions of the southern coast of Cuba Tuesday evening through Wednesday morning.
The National Hurricane Center says there is a increasing risk of wind and rainfall impacts over the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico Wednesday night and Thursday. The latest official track from the National Hurricane Center brings Grace across the northern part of the peninsula on Thursday, putting Grace in the southern Gulf of Mexico by Friday morning.
While initial forecasts initially had Grace impacting Florida and perhaps the U.S. East Coast, the official National Hurricane Center track keeps the center of the storm well south of the U.S. over the next five days.