Jump to content



Recommended Posts

Hurricane Dennis batters Cuba, heads to Keys

With 150 mph winds, storm gains strength as it moves north




Friday, July 8, 2005; Posted: 12:11 p.m. EDT (16:11 GMT)



MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- Hurricane Dennis picked up strength Friday as it pushed toward Cuba, bearing down hard on the south-central part of the Caribbean island.


Nearing the threshold for a Category 5 hurricane, Dennis has maximum sustained winds of 150 mph (241 kph), according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.


At 11 a.m. ET, the hurricane was centered about 130 miles (209 kilometers) west of Camaguey, Cuba, and about 250 miles (405 kilometers) south-southeast of Key West.


Dennis was moving northwest at about 15 mph (24 kph).


Forecasters expect the storm to weaken slightly after it makes landfall over Cuba, but they said it would still be a major hurricane when it passed into the Straits of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico on Friday night.


The three-day forecast shows the storm could affect the U.S. Gulf Coast, anywhere from southwest Florida to southeast Louisiana.


The National Hurricane Center predicts that Hurricane Dennis may make landfall Sunday evening on a course that could include Pensacola in northwest Florida. But paths can change, and no warnings have been issued that include that Florida Panhandle city or surrounding area.


Last year, Hurricane Ivan caused significant damage in the same area.


Forecasters characterized Dennis, a Category 4 storm nearing Category 5 strength, as "extremely dangerous," capable of causing extensive damage and flooding. The most destructive hurricane class is Category 5, with winds greater than 155 mph (249 kph).


Dennis has been blamed for at least five deaths in Haiti.


Declaring an emergency and mobilizing state resources, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said Dennis threatens a "major disaster" in a state still recovering from four hurricane strikes last year.


A spokesman for the Key West police said that the island's residents were steeling for a windy onslaught -- and police were working 12 hours shifts.


"Businesses are boarding up," the police spokesman said. "We don't see as many people out as we did yesterday. People are taking it very seriously now."


The officer said Key West Mayor Jimmy Wheekley would decide later Friday whether to order the island's businesses to close.


With the center of Dennis expected to pass west of Key West early Saturday, officials in Monroe County ordered a mandatory evacuation for residents of the lower islands, from the Seven Mile Bridge to Key West. Visitors and nonresidents had been told to leave earlier.


A hurricane warning was in effect for the lower Florida Keys from the Seven Mile Bridge west to the Dry Tortugas. The warning means hurricane conditions are forecasted in the area within 24 hours. The hurricane center urged people to rush preparations to protect life and property, forecasting 4 inches to 8 inches of rain and a storm surge of 3 feet to 6 feet around the low-lying islands.


With the storm's approach, other watches and warnings for parts of Florida also were issued:


# A tropical storm warning and hurricane watch are in effect for the upper Florida Keys, east of the Seven-Mile Bridge to Ocean Reef, and Florida Bay, which means tropical storm conditions are expected within the next 24 hours and hurricane conditions are possible within the next 36 hours.


# A tropical storm warning is also in effect for the southwest and southeast Florida coasts, which means tropical storm conditions are expected within the next 24 hours. On the Gulf side, the watch extends northward to Bonita Beach in Lee County and includes Naples; on the Atlantic Coast side, it extends up to Golden Beach and includes Miami.


# A tropical storm watch is in effect for the Florida Gulf Coast from Bonita Beach northward to Longboat Key, near the mouth of Tampa Bay, which means tropical storm conditions are possible within the next 36 hours.


At the Kennedy Space Center, about 200 miles (322 kilometers) north of Miami on the Atlantic, NASA managers will decide by noon Friday whether to roll the space shuttle Discovery off its launch pad and back into an assembly building.


Doing so could delay Wednesday's launch of Discovery, which would end a nearly 2 1/2-year break in the shuttle program that followed the Columbia disaster.


Tourists were asked to leave Alabama beaches on Friday, and Louisiana and Mississippi officials planned announcements later Friday. Inland-bound traffic already was picking up.



Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...