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Fourth hurricane eyes Florida


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Fourth hurricane eyes Florida


Friday, September 24, 2004 Posted: 12:40 PM EDT (1640 GMT)


Hurricane Jeanne was 290 miles east of Great Abaco Island at 11 a.m. Friday.



As of 11 a.m. ET Friday:

# Position of center: 290 miles east of Great Abaco, Bahamas

# Latitude: 26.2 north

# Longitude: 72.4 west

# Top sustained winds: 100 mph

Source: National Hurricane Center



GONAIVES, Haiti (CNN) -- Hurricane Jeanne continued its westward crawl toward the northern Bahamas and a possible landfall in Florida after killing more than 1,100 people in Haiti.


Florida is bracing for what may be the fourth hurricane in a row as forecasters predict a Sunday morning landfall somewhere along the state's east coast.


The National Hurricane Center said Jeanne is likely to strengthen into a powerful Category 3 storm over the weekend.


It already has left major destruction in its wake.


In Haiti, international relief workers trying to distribute supplies on Friday were mobbed by hungry, desperate people, many of whom said they had not eaten since their homes were destroyed last weekend, when Jeanne still was a tropical storm.


Some 1,250 people still are missing in Haiti, six days after the storm hit, and the death toll is expected to rise as recovery and relief efforts continue. (Full story)


Jeanne left more than 250,000 people homeless in Haiti's northwest province, which includes the port of Gonaives. The days since have been a desperate time of survival.


Without ceremony, mass graves were being filled with both human and animal carcasses. Survivors set up camp on house tops surrounded by contaminated waters and compromised food supplies.


Jeanne is now heading toward the Bahamas. At 11 a.m. ET, the center of the hurricane was 290 miles east of Great Abaco Island in northwestern Bahamas, where a hurricane warning is in effect, the National Hurricane Center said.


Jeanne's top winds held at 100 mph. It was moving west at near 9 mph, with some increase in forward speed expected during the next 24 hours, the NHC said.


Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 45 miles from the center, and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 150 miles. Dangerous surf and rip currents, caused by large swells from the hurricane, are possible along the southeastern Florida coast, the center said.




Hurricane watch on Florida coast


As the storm moves closer to Florida, a hurricane watch has been issued along the coast from Florida City, south of Miami, to St. Augustine, including Lake Okeechobee.


The hurricane center noted that sundown Friday until sundown Saturday will be Yom Kippur, the solemn Jewish holiday. Observants in the watch and warning areas "will not be listening to radios or watching TV ... and may not be aware of the hurricane situation," the center said in a statement posted on its Web site.


Jeanne follows hurricanes Charley and Frances, which hit the Florida peninsula, and Ivan, which pounded the Florida Panhandle, even though its eye made landfall on the Alabama coast.


Florida Gov. Jeb Bush warned the state to take Jeanne seriously. Calling it a "brutal" storm, he urged people to take in their neighbors as a way to help people move away from the coastline.


"Yes, we are tired and our resources are stretched," he said, adding that the state has the additional complication of few available hotel rooms because so many are filled with relief workers.


Although there are several tracks that might be taken by the hurricane, currently a Category 2 storm, "most of the computer projections, at least at this time, have it continuing toward the Florida peninsula," Mayfield said.


"The way it looks now, we will indeed have an impact in Florida. I don't see any way to get around that," he said.


Jeanne should strengthen and could become a major hurricane -- Category 3 -- on Friday.




May hit Florida on Sunday


Projections show the storm cutting through the northern Bahamas on Saturday and then heading straight to Florida. There is a strong chance tropical-storm-force winds could reach the east or east-central coast of Florida by Saturday afternoon.


Jeanne is on track to hit the Florida coastline by Sunday morning, weather forecasters said, with winds of up to 115 mph.


One of the projected courses has the storm hitting Melbourne, Florida, as a Category 3 storm with winds up to 115 mph, then curving up the East Coast toward the Carolinas. Other projections show the hurricane cutting straight across Florida from east to west and moving up toward the Panhandle.


"Sometimes it feels like this is a test of resiliency for our state," Bush said. "Other times I feel like I'm Bill Murray in 'Groundhog Day,'" the movie in which the same horrible day is repeated over and over again.


The string of hurricanes has pummeled Florida's tourism industry, with many oceanfront resorts damaged and some highways washed out. (Full story)


Even as Florida prepares for Jeanne, electricity has not been completely restored from the previous storms.


Bush said relief efforts have provided more than 7.4 million meals and 18 million pounds of ice. Schools are starting to open and government officials were working with power companies to get all power restored.


Bush said utility companies had restored power to 78 percent of homes in the Panhandle.


As of Thursday evening, about 68,000 customers were without electricity in Escambia County, Florida, and about 25,000 had no power in Santa Rosa County.


Hurricane and tropical-storm related power outages also continue in Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina. Roughly 72,500 business and residential customers of electric cooperatives, Alabama Power Co. and city-owned utilities in Alabama still were without power Thursday, a week after Hurricane Ivan hit, electric executives said.


Ivan initially left 112,000 Georgia customers without power, but only a handful of clients remained without power in that state.


And in North Carolina, electric cooperatives continue to make progress with restoration efforts in the western part of the state, with 9,654 outages remaining.

Ivan dumps heavy rains


Meanwhile, Ivan weakened to a tropical depression as it moved inland along the southwestern Louisiana and upper Texas coasts.


Parts of southwestern Louisiana received as much as 8 inches of rain, and Jefferson County in Texas received between 3 and 3.5 inches in a four-hour period, The Associated Press reported.


At 5 a.m. ET Friday, it was about 35 miles northwest of Port Arthur, Texas. The storm was moving northwest at 8 mph with 30 mph winds. It is expected to continue weakening as it moves farther inland.


Ivan slammed ashore as a hurricane a week ago on the Alabama coast, spreading havoc from there into North Carolina.


Over the next few days, its remnants curled back into the Gulf of Mexico, where they regrouped and regained tropical storm strength late Wednesday.






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