Tropical Depression Fred threatens mudslides in New York

Source: Jamaica Gleaner
Tropical Depression Fred swirled over West Virginia early Wednesday and dumped heavy rain over the northeastern United States, threatening to unleash mudslides and flash floods in upstate New York after closing interstate highways in the lower Appalachians.

Tornado watches remained in effect for mountainous areas of Virginia and the Carolinas.

Unconfirmed tornadoes unleashed by the stormy weather already caused damage in places in Georgia and North Carolina on Tuesday as Fred moved north, well inland from the coastal areas that usually bear the brunt of tropical weather.

One death was reported — a Las Vegas man whose car hydroplaned and flipped into a ditch near Panama City, Florida, hours after the storm moved ashore, Florida Highway Patrol said.

About 25,000 customers were without power early Wednesday according to the utility tracker, most of them in West Virginia and North Carolina, where steady downpours swelled waterways and washed rocks and mud onto highways.

Multiple landslides closed Interstate 19 through the Nantahala Gorge, according to the North Carolina transportation department.

The National Hurricane Center said Fred had top sustained winds of 25 miles per hour and was moving northeast past Charleston, West Virginia, at 20 miles per hour Wednesday morning.

Schools were closed and people evacuated along three rain-swollen rivers in far eastern Tennessee.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Grace was strengthening after unleashing torrential rain on earthquake-damaged Haiti.

Grace’s sustained winds grew to 65 miles per hour early Wednesday as it moved between southeastern Cuba and Jamaica, and could be a hurricane before hitting Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula late Wednesday or early Thursday.

It was about 40 miles south southeast of Grand Cayman where a tropical storm warning was in effect, along with the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico from north of Cancun to Campeche and from south of Punta Herrero to Puerto Costa Maya.

A hurricane warning is in effect for the Yucatan from Cancun to Punta Herrero, including Cozumel.

Tropical Storm Henri, meanwhile, was about 160 miles south-southwest of Bermuda.

The small tropical cyclone had 65 miles per hour winds and was expected to circle widely around the island, the hurricane centre said.

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