Chantal dissolves but remains a wet threat for Haiti

Tropical Storm Chantal fell apart on Wednesday, but remained a flood threat for Haiti and promised a dreary weekend for South Florida and much of the rest of the state.

At 5 p.m. Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center pronounced Chantal dead but cautioned that there was still a chance that the sprawling, disorganized mass of storms could possibly regenerate after crossing Cuba and enter the warm Florida Straits on Thursday.

Chantal’s remnants were tracking toward South Florida and much of the region could see from two to four inches of rain beginning Friday — with heavy downpours possible in spots, said Kim Brabander, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami.

A dip in Chantal’s track to the south also could help ease flooding in Hispaniola, with the projected rainfall for the island shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic dropping significantly. Still, the three to six inches expected could be more than enough to trigger potentially deadly mudslides and flash floods, particularly in the denuded countryside of Haiti, where brushes from hurricanes Isaac and Sandy last year killed nearly 100 people and caused widespread damage to homes and crops. Jamaica and Cuba also could see heavy rain over the next few days

Isolated storms swept across Haiti on Wednesday, but more rain was expected over the next few days and the country remained under alert. The education minister canceled national exams until Monday. Foreign governments, including the U.N. Peacekeeping Stabilization Mission and the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, also sent home non-essential employees early, and closed operations

“The threat remains,” said Marie-Alta Jean-Baptiste, head of Civil Protection, Haiti’s disaster authority said. “We know the threat of rain always poses a great danger for Haiti.”

Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the hurricane center, said with Chantal crossing Cuba Thursday and entering an atmosphere of increasing wind shear, odds were against the storm reforming.

“The environment is just not good at all,’’ he said.

Miami Herald Staff Writer Jacqueline Charles, reporting from Port-au-Prince, contributed to this report.