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Tropical Storm Gaston

Residents and officials in the Carolinas on Monday were cleaning up from Tropical Storm Gaston and keeping their eyes on Hurricane Frances. At 8 p.m. EDT Monday, Frances was centered about 190 miles east-northeast of the northern Leeward Islands and was moving west at about 14 mph. While Gaston caused some problems, "it's not the kind of catastrophic damage we see in a major hurricane," South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford said. He urged coastal residents to monitor Frances, which had 125 mph winds but is still days away from the Southeast coast. Gaston, which came ashore Sunday just under hurricane strength with winds of 70 mph, brought rains estimated at 13 inches in places in South Carolina. The storm flooded areas already saturated by Hurricane Charley earlier this month and cut power to 172,000 electric customers in the state. Fewer than 29,000 customers remained without power Monday. In Berkeley County, where damage from Gaston was severe, 10 houses were completely flooded and more than two dozen people had to be rescued from flood waters, said Jim Rozier, a county supervisor. "It just seemed to rain forever," he said. In Virginia Monday, remnants of Tropical Storm Gaston battered parts of the state with torrential rain, sending cars floating down streets and stranding people in downtown buildings, publishes ABCNEWS. According to Reuters, the small islands of the northern Caribbean were on alert on Monday for a close encounter with powerful Hurricane Frances, while the remnants of Tropical Storm Gaston limped through North Carolina. Another tropical storm, Hermine, chugged through the north Atlantic at the tail of a remarkably busy month that saw the formation of eight tropical storms, four of which became hurricanes. Weakened slightly, Frances was expected to move north of the Caribbean islands in the next two days, but was likely to be close enough to brush Antigua, Anguilla and the other small islands with tropical storm-force winds of 39-73 mph. Tropical storm warnings were issued for Antigua and Barbuda, Sint Maarten, Anguilla, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Eustatius and Saba, telling residents to expect storm conditions in 24 hours. A hurricane watch was in effect for the British and northern U.S. Virgin Islands and the islands of Culebra and Vieques. Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory of about 4 million people, could come under a hurricane watch later on Monday. At 8 a.m. EDT on Monday, the center of Frances was about 265 miles east-northeast of the northern Leeward Islands and was moving to the west at about 10 mph, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. USATODAY informs that expecting a brush with Hurricane Frances, some Puerto Ricans hurried to put up metal storm shutters Monday to shield homes from ferocious winds that could uproot trees and tear roofs apart. The powerful Category 3 hurricane was forecast to just graze Puerto Rico and other islands of the northeastern Caribbean by Tuesday before possibly plowing into the Bahamas and Florida in the coming days. Some islanders said they were taking no chances with Frances' 120-mph winds. "If it comes, they'll give us 24 hours' warning. The more we've done, the less work it will be when it gets here," said Jesus Gimenez, a 52-year-old teacher who put up storm shutters on a hillside house in eastern Puerto Rico and stocked up on groceries from evaporated milk to bottled water. Forecasts put the storm anywhere from Cuba to the Carolinas by the end of the week, but, in the words of Richard Pasch, one of the Center's hurricane specialists, The bad news for The Bahamas and the Florida Peninsula is that there is no significant" change likely in the winds that are steering Frances. This lack of a major change in the steering winds is "the consensus" of the various computer models that the Center's forecasters use, he said. "It is extremely important not to focus on the exact track (in Hurricane Center forecasts), especially at 96 and 120 hours (in the future) because the hurricane is not a point, especially a hurricane as large as Frances," Pasch wrote in his 5 p.m. Monday discussion of the forecast.

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