Dean Turns Mean

August 17, 2007

In just five days Dean has gone from a tropical depression to a category two hurricane, with winds over 100 mph (160 kph). The National Hurricane Center in Miami expects “some strengthening during the next 24 hours.” Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 25 miles (35 kms) from the center, and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 140 miles (220 kms). Dean’s minimum central pressure was measured most recently at 976 mb (28.82 inches).

French television reported that the Island of Martinique has been placed on “violet” alert, as the first winds and heavy rain hit the island early this morning. So far there have been no reports of serious damage.

Dean’s path will take the storm through the Lesser Antilles, near St. Lucia and Barbados throughout the day. The NHC warned of heavy rainfall – up to “10 inches (25.4 cms) in mountainous areas – as well as high tides (2 to 4 feet – 67 cms to 1.4 meters above normal) and “battering waves,” along the coasts of the islands in Dean’s path. The rains could trigger floods and mudslides in certain areas.

Hurricane and tropical storm warnings remain in place throughout the region. Hurricane Dean is moving in a generally westerly direction at around 24 mph (39 km/hr), which is expected to continue with “some decrease in forward speed during the next 24 hours.” On its current course Dean would pass south of Cuba early next week, and could come ashore on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

While Dean poses no immediate threat, a slight turn northward could eventually bring the storm into Gulf of Mexico, where it could pose a threat to oil rigs in the Gulf, and ultimately to the Texas and Louisiana coast.

Source NHC, TF1

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