The drama of the tropical trifecta intensified in the Caribbean on Thursday.

Tropical Storm Hanna -- which had hovered for several days near the Turks and Caicos, Puerto Rico and the north coasts of Haiti and the Dominican Republic -- was passing just east of the Bahamas on Thursday and could reach hurricane strength before making landfall along the Carolina coast Saturday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The sprawling storm system will cause dangerous riptides all along the East Coast this weekend.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Ike, a dangerous Category 4 storm packing 145 mph winds, roared further out in the Atlantic, hundreds of miles from the Caribbean. Forecasters said it was too early to determine Ike's track and eventual landfall, although some forecasts showed Ike arriving in several days near the Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas, areas already soaked by Hanna.

Tropical Storm Josephine in the mid-Atlantic trails Ike by 1,600 miles and poses no threat at present.

Meanwhile, reports from Haiti indicate widespread flooding and devastation after being hit by a series of storms in recent weeks. President Rene Preval said that three storms in 21 days (Fay, Gustav, Hanna) have killed 170 people and forced thousands to flee their homes.

The northern city of Gonaives, Haiti's second largest city, bore the brunt of Hanna's 65 mph winds and rain. Floodwaters have stranded people on rooftops for hours.
UN peacekeepers and aid workers have been unable to reach stranded survivors because of floodwaters.

Preval said he would appeal for aid from donor countries.

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