Southwestern Caribbean: Tropical storm Beta becomes 23rd named storm of 2005
Beta is expected to produce 10 to 15 inches of rain across western Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. The outskirts of the hurricane, with its heavy rains, could also affect El Salvador and Guatemala, which have been terribly damaged by two previous hurricanes: Stan and Wilma.
Early this morning, the storm was located approximately 75 miles south of San Andres Island and about 140 miles east-southeast of Bluefields, Nicaragua. A hurricane watch and a tropical storm warning have been issued for the islands of San Andres and Providencia. A tropical storm warning has also been issued for the entire Caribbean coast of Nicaragua and adjacent islands. Heavy rain and strong winds are expected. According to forecasts, the two most affected countries could be Nicaragua and Honduras. Beta could hit their respective eastern-costal areas -- the poorest regions in the two countries.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)'s regional office in Panama is monitoring the situation and has contacted the United Nations Resident Coordinators in Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala. The United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) system has been alerted and the regional office will decide tomorrow if an UNDAC team should be pre-positionned in Nicaragua to support the United Nations and national emergency organizations.
The formation of tropical storm Beta follows last week's tropical depression Alpha, which produced heavy rains and flooding in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. In Haiti, Alpha caused 13 deaths and localized flooding in the departments of West, South-West and Grande Anse. Although flood waters have begun to recede, some areas remain inaccessible.
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit http://unocha.org/.