Powerful Hurricane Ivan Ravages Caribbean Islands; Could Strike U.S.

September 8, 2004

Hurricane Ivan continued its destructive path through the Southeastern Caribbean yesterday, pummeling Grenada, Barbados and Tobago with 120 mph (195km/hr) winds before moving back over open water.

No deaths have so far been reported, but property damage has been severe as the storm uprooted trees, downed power lines, tore off roofs with accompanying heavy rains and high tides causing flooding and mudslides.

The National Hurricane Center called Ivan “extremely dangerous,” as it continues moving westward through the Caribbean. A hurricane warning remains in effect for Aruba, Bonaire and CuraƧao. A hurricane watch and a tropical storm warning remain in effect for the Guajira Peninsula of Colombia and for the entire northern coast of Venezuela.

The storm’s maximum sustained winds are now near 135 mph (215 km/hr) with higher gusts. “This makes Ivan an extremely dangerous category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale, “said the latest NHC bulletin. “Strengthening is forecast during the next 24 hours.” The NHC is waiting for the latest assessment from Air Force hunter aircraft, but from the information currently available it said “hurricane force winds extend outward up to 70 miles (110 km) from the center and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 160 miles (260 km).”

More ominously the NHC indicated that Ivan is “moving toward the west near 17 mph (28 km/hr,)” but it expects the storm to make “a gradual turn toward the west-northwest” during the next 24 hours. At this point it’s not possible to make an accurate chart of Ivan’s future route, but if it continues on the course indicated by the NHC’s charts, the storm’s center will pass directly over Jamaica by Friday, and would hit western Cuba by late Saturday or early Sunday.

On that storm track it could strike the U.S. mainland by early next week. Although there’s no telling where it might come ashore, or what strength Ivan may have when, and if, it gets there, it’s current heading would put the point of potential landfall somewhere between Southern Florida and the Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana Gulf Coast.

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