Hurricane Gustav grew into a hurricane Tuesday after emerging in the Caribbean, threatening Haiti with powerful winds less than two weeks after the country was hit by a deadly storm.

“Reports from an Air Force hurricane aircraft indicate that Gustav has become a hurricane with maximum winds near 80 mph (130 kilometers per hour),” the US National Hurricane Center said in a 2:20 a.m. advisory.

The US National Hurricane Center further states, “The cloud pattern has become better defined over the past few hours…With a well-defined eye and a thickening eyewall. Significant strengthening is likely prior to the center of Gustav reaching Haiti.  After that…The intensity of Gustav will depend largely on how much the circulation interacts with the land masses of Haiti and Cuba.  The latest forecast track indicates more time over water than the previous advisory and so the intensity forecast has been increased to reflect that.  Both the GFDL and the HWRF show Gustav avoiding nearly all of Cuba and have Gustav as a major hurricane in five days.”

“The motion of the storm is 310/10 (NNW at 10 miles per hour). A mid-tropospheric anticyclone centered in the northwestern Bahamas is forecast to remain largely in place for the next three days or so.  This pattern should result in a slowing of Gustav forward speed and a turn to the left.  Except for the NOGAPS, the dynamical guidance models keep Gustav south of central Cuba.  The official forecast is adjusted southward of the previous advisory but most of the primary guidance is even farther south” according to the center’s latest forecast.  

The storm is expected to dump five to seven inches of rain over Hispaniola, with isolated maximum accumulations of up to 15 inches possible, threatening to produce flash floods and mudslides, the hurricane center said.

Oil prices rose as Gustav stirred concerns about disruptions to U.S. oil and gas output in the Gulf of Mexico and served as another reminder that this storm season is shaping up to be busier than usual.

The official forecast called for Gustav to move to the northwest across Haiti and then south of central Cuba, possibly toward the Gulf of Mexico, but the computer models used to predict the future path of hurricanes disagreed.