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Tropical storm's trek could bring it to North Georgia

Fay slams Caribbean, killing 4; Cuba, Florida next in its path

POSTED: August 20, 2008 5:01 a.m.

The remnants of Tropical Storm Fay could bring some heavy rains into north Georgia near the end of the week, forecasters believe, though the path it will take remains uncertain.

"Right now there is a pretty good chance it could affect us, but how much is still pretty much up in the air," said Stephen Konarik, a forecaster with the National Weather Service's Peachtree City office.

The storm's trek over Cuba today could be a determining factor. Konarik said that country's mountains may shift the expected pattern of the storm, which has Florida bracing for possible hurricane-force winds by Monday.

Current models have the remnants of the storm moving into eastern Georgia by Thursday, Konarik said.

"The models show it could stall over North Georgia and remain there through the weekend and possibly beyond," Konarik said. "Some very heavy rainfall is definitely a possibility."

Because of the uncertainty of the storm's path, however, the current forecast for Thursday through Saturday is a 50 percent chance of precipitation.

The rains would be welcome in northeast Georgia, which remains in extreme drought conditions. Lake Lanier is at 17 feet below full pool.

Today's forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with highs in the upper 80s.

Flooding from Fay killed four people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and authorities said Saturday that the storm could reach hurricane strength as it barrels toward Cuba.

Florida's Gov. Charlie Crist declared a state of emergency and said Fay threatened the state with a "major disaster." Forecasters said Fay could bring hurricane-force winds to the Florida Keys as soon as Monday.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said that late Saturday night the storm was located about 175 miles (280 kilometers) southeast of Camaguey, Cuba. It was heading west at about 14 mph (22 kph), with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (75 kph).

A man died Saturday in Haiti while trying to cross a river in Leogane, south of Port-au-Prince, said Marie Alta Jean-Baptiste, head of Haiti's civil protection department. No further information was immediately available.

A tropical storm warning has been issued for the Cayman Islands, and a tropical storm watch remains in effect for the Bahamas and Jamaica.

Forecasters said Fay could hit the U.S. as a Category 1 or 2 hurricane, with winds perhaps reaching more than 100 mph (160 kph).

The Associated Press contributed to this story.



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