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Tropical storm Alpha triggers fatal floods

Busy week for record-breaking storm

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Flooding caused by tropical storm Alpha has killed at least seven people in Haiti, according to reports. The storm dumped at least 38cm of rain on the Caribbean island of Hispanola before it weakened into a tropical depression.

However, this is the 22nd named tropical storm of the season, and means that the US' National Hurricane Centre (NHC) has run out of Tropical Storm names for the first time ever.

Every year the NHC allocates 21 names for a season of tropical storms. This has, so far, been enough to see everyone through until the end of the hurricane season, but not this year. The 2005 hurricane season has been the most prolific in 150 years of record keeping.

Five weeks shy of the end of the storm season, Tropical Storm Alpha emerged, forcing weather forecasters to abandon their traditional naming conventions and start naming storms after letters of the Greek alphabet.

After losing much of its strength over the mountains of Hispanola, the downgraded tropical depression alpha moved north, and is currently heading towards the Bahamas. The NHC says it expects the remnants of the storm to be absorbed into the outer fringes of Hurricane Wilma.

Meanwhile, NASA has closed the Kennedy Space Center in preparation for Wilma's arrival. Wilma is still considered a strong category three hurricane, with windspeeds of almost 120mph, and is likely to drop as much as 50 inches of rain on parts of the Yucatan region, New Scientist reports. ®

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