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Society

Fred Drenches US Southeast; Grace Again a Tropical Storm

Fred weakened from a tropical storm to a depression early Tuesday as it trekked inland, spreading heavy rains over the U.S. Southeast. The National Weather Service said it spawned several tornadoes in Georgia, and flash flooding and mudslides were possible in mountainous areas as it moves toward the mid-Atlantic states. 

No deaths have been reported from Fred, and fewer than 30,000 customers were without power in Florida and Georgia after the storm crashed ashore late Monday afternoon near Cape San Blas in the Florida Panhandle. Emergency crews were repairing downed power lines and clearing toppled trees Tuesday in Fred's aftermath,

The National Hurricane Center said Fred was crossing southeast Alabama into western and north Georgia with top sustained winds down to 35 mph (56 kph). Senior hurricane specialist Stacy Stewart said Tuesday that it could dump 5 to 7 inches (13-18 centimeters) of rain into parts of Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas — and possibly up to 10 (25 centimeters) of rain in isolated spots, causing flash flooding in mountainous areas. 

Meanwhile, reconnaissance aircraft found Grace regained tropical cyclone strength early Tuesday. Grace lashed earthquake-damaged Haiti as a tropical depression on Monday, dumping up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain that pelted people huddling under improvised shelters in the aftermath of Saturday's 7.2 magnitude earthquake, now blamed for more than 1,400 deaths. 

Grace had top sustained winds of 40 mph (64 kph) and was headed west near 16 mph (26 kph), on a track between southeastern Cuba and Jamaica by Tuesday afternoon. Forecasters said it could be near hurricane strength as it approaches Mexico's Yucatan peninsula late Wednesday or early Thursday.

Tropical Storm Henri, meanwhile, was about 135 miles (215 kilometers) south-southeast of Bermuda. The small tropical cyclone had 50 mph (80 kph) winds and was expected to pass well south of Bermuda by Tuesday night, the hurricane center said.

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