A temporarily weakened Tropical Storm Isaac has left behind Haiti and is forecast to batter Cuba on Saturday before entering the warm waters of the Florida Straits and likely gaining hurricane strength.
In its 8:00 a.m. public advisory, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said the center of Isaac was located 93 miles east-southeast of Guantanamo, Cuba, and was moving to the northwest at around 14 miles per hour.
After dousing highly vulnerable Haiti with rain early Saturday, Isaac’s maximum sustained winds decreased to 95 kilometers (60 miles) per hour, but it is expected to strengthen after making its way over eastern and central Cuba and become a hurricane on Sunday.
There were no immediate reports of fatalities in Haiti, but that destitute Caribbean country is highly vulnerable to flooding and has suffered high deaths tolls in the past from tropical storms.
In 2008, Tropical Storm Hanna left more than 100 dead and hundreds of thousands in need of assistance after hovering over northern Haiti for several days.
According to the NHC, the center of Isaac will move near or over eastern Cuba Saturday and move near the north coast of Cuba on Saturday night before approaching the Florida Keys on Sunday.
A tropical storm warning is in effect for the Dominican Republic, Haiti and the Cuban provinces of Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spiritus, Villa Clara, Camaguey, Las Tunas, Granma, Holguin, Santiago de Cuba and Guantanamo.
The Florida Keys and the southernmost portion of Florida’s west coast are under a hurricane warning.