Franklin churns way through Caribbean

In this Monday, Aug. 21, 2023, 9:03am ET satellite image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Tropical Storm Franklin moves south of Hispaniola island. Earlier Monday, there were three tropical storms swirling through the Caribbean and Atlantic Ocean. One of those storms, Emily, dissipated late Monday morning, and another storm, Gert, was expected to do the same. (NOAA via AP)
In this Monday, Aug. 21, 2023, 9:03am ET satellite image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Tropical Storm Franklin moves south of Hispaniola island. Earlier Monday, there were three tropical storms swirling through the Caribbean and Atlantic Ocean. One of those storms, Emily, dissipated late Monday morning, and another storm, Gert, was expected to do the same. (NOAA via AP)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Tropical Storm Franklin churned through the Caribbean Sea on Monday as authorities in Haiti and the Dominican Republic warned residents to prepare for landslides and heavy floods.

The storm was centered on Monday night about 290 miles south of Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, and had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph. It remained temporarily stationary, but was forecast to make a sharp turn north today.

Franklin was expected to strengthen before making landfall late today in Hispaniola, the island shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

The storm is forecast to drop up to 10 inches of rain in both countries, with up to 15 inches in isolated areas. Heavy rainfall is of great concern to Haiti, where severe erosion in many places often leads to dangerous flooding. More than 40 people died in June following a day of heavy rain from a thunderstorm.

"The mudslide risk there is just awful," said Phil Klotzbach, a meteorologist at Colorado State University, noting that a slow-moving storm poses great danger in Haiti given that it's so stripped of trees.

Several Haitians in the capital of Port-au-Prince told The Associated Press that they didn't know a tropical storm was coming, despite authorities posting warnings on social media.

Marie Christine Bonjour, 39, who sells used clothes, said she didn't have any preparations in place.

"God is the only plan. He'll look over me and my kids," she said. "There is nothing I can do."

The storm approached as more than 200,000 people in Haiti are displaced, having to stay with family or in makeshift shelters because warring gangs pillaged and set fire to their homes.

"I hope God will direct the storm in another direction," said street vendor Anne Jean-Pierre, 45. "We can't take any more."

Jean-Pierre, who has moved twice already because of gang violence, said she would put her essential documents in a plastic bag because she lives in an area that floods easily.

A tropical storm warning was in effect for the entire southern coast of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. A tropical storm watch was posted for the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Earlier Monday, there were three tropical storms swirling through the Caribbean and Atlantic Ocean, an unusual occurrence as the region braces for a busier than average hurricane season.

"We went from nothing to a lot in a day," Klotzbach said.

One of those storms, Emily, dissipated late Monday morning, and another storm, Gert, was expected to do the same.

Franklin formed Sunday and was dropping heavy rain over parts of Puerto Rico on Monday, Gert formed overnight to become the eighth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season. It formed some three weeks early compared with the dates of the eighth named storms from 1991 to 2020, said Brian McNoldy, senior research associate at University of Miami.

There have been 14 years with three named storms simultaneously in the Atlantic since 1886, Klotzbach said. The most storms the Atlantic has ever had at one time is four, a phenomena that has occurred only twice, in 1893 and 1995.

The Atlantic is smaller than the Pacific and can only accommodate so many storms, Klotzbach said, adding that Franklin was shearing apart Gert.

"One will basically kill the other one," he said of storms that are too close to each other.

Information for this article was contributed by Evens Sanon of The Associated Press.

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