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Fast-forming Gustav stirs up Caribbean

Rain from Tropical Storm Gustav floods streets Monday in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The storm is expected to become a hurricane today.

Associated Press

Rain from Tropical Storm Gustav floods streets Monday in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The storm is expected to become a hurricane today.

Just as Tropical Storm Fay cools off, another weather system is heating up.

Tropical Storm Gustav barreled through the Caribbean on Monday with forecasters expecting the system to develop into a hurricane by today.

But whether it will threaten Florida or the Tampa Bay area is unclear.

"It's still too early to tell," said meteorologist Dennis Feltgen, spokesman for the National Hurricane Center. "But we are in that part of the year, and I would encourage residents of Florida, especially South Florida, to keep checking with us."

Gusvav was almost a hurricane late Monday with winds of 70 mph, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said. A hurricane has winds of at least 74 miles mph.

Haiti and the Dominican Republic were put under hurricane watch. The storm is expected to produce between 5 and 7 inches of rain there, and some areas could get as much as 25 inches.

Fay and Gustav began as tropical waves off the coast of Africa, but that's where the similarities end. While Fay moved slowly, Gustav developed rapidly, going from a tropical depression to a tropical storm in a few hours Monday.

"That's unusual to do that," said Jeff Masters, co-founder of wunderground.com, a forecasting Web site. "Usually it takes two or three days at tropical depression before it becomes a storm."

With certain conditions, the storm could affect the Tampa Bay area, Masters said.

Gustav is the seventh named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.

Fast-forming Gustav stirs up Caribbean 08/25/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 27, 2008 12:47pm]
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