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Tropical Storm Gustav Takes Charge - Update

Hurricanes season is here, in case you hadn't noticed...

Read where forecasters expect Gustav to head next: Gustav Following in Katrina's Path (updated August, 28, 2008)

Hurricane season may have had a sluggish start, but Mother Nature is wide awake now and in her full hurricane regalia. Last week Tropical Storm Fay saturated Florida. This week, Gustav is charting a path towards Haiti, Cuba, the Bahamas and possibly Florida.

Haiti has issued storm warnings and is preparing for a worst case scenario. Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital and home for 3 million people is in the direct path of the eye of the storm. While Gustav is still a tropical storm (it hasn't been upgraded to a hurricane) it can still cause significant damage, according to Reuters:

"Haiti is vulnerable to devastating floods because hillsides have been stripped of trees by people desperate for charcoal to be used as cooking fuel. In 2004, Tropical Storm Jeanne was blamed for flooding that killed some 3,000 people."

Forecasters are predicting Gustav will hit Haiti, storm through Cuba and then move onto the Bahamas and Florida. But the computer models predict it will move south to Jamaica and then the Yucatan peninsula. It's obviously not an exact science, so if you're traveling in the area you'll have to apply a little bit of gut instinct to the formula.

I dodged a hurricane once when visiting Jamaica a few years ago. My plane took off from the island a full 24 hours before it hit. In retrospect, I feel like I dodged a bullet - a huge one. I can't imagine being trapped in an airport - or worse our seaside hotel - weathering out winds that bring down buildings and toss cars around like dinky toys.

Have you ever been caught in a tropical storm or hurricane while traveling? If you're accustomed to this kind of weather at home, panic isn't likely your first move. But if you've never had to live out a hurricane in a basement, I'm guessing you'd want to get out of Dodge quickly.

If you're traveling to the Caribbean this week, these resources may come in handy:

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