Felix the Cat – 4 or 5

September 4, 2007

Hurricane Felix, which is poised to come ashore along the border of Nicaragua and Honduras later today, is a strange storm (See following article). It developed suddenly from a tropical depression on Friday, Aug. 31 into a full-blown category 5 hurricane by Sunday night. After passing over the Netherlands Antilles (See IJ web site Sept. 2), where it caused some local flooding, the storm regained strength as it moved over the waters of the Southern Caribbean.

For most of yesterday the Miami-based National Hurricane Center classified Felix as a “potentially catastrophic hurricane” with maximum sustained winds are near 160 mph (260 km/hr) with higher gusts, i.e. category 5.

The latest NHC bulletin (2:00 a.m. EDT) notes that maximum sustained winds are now “near 150 mph (240 km/hr) with higher gusts – a category 4 hurricane. But the NHC also indicated that “some additional strengthening could occur while the center of Felix remains over water, and it is possible that Felix could reach category five status prior to making landfall in a few hours.”

The NHC warned that “storm surge flooding in excess of 18 feet [5.8 meters] above normal tide levels, along with large and dangerous battering waves, is possible to the north of where the center makes landfall.” Five to 10 inches (12.7 to 25.4 cms) of rain is expected “across Northern Nicaragua and much of Honduras with possible isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches. These rains will likely produce life- threatening flash floods and mud slides.”

Felix, however, is smaller than Dean, its immediate predecessor. Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 35 miles (55 kms) from the center and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 105 miles (165 kms).

According to the NHC’s 3-day forecast, Felix poses no immediate threat either to the Gulf of Mexico or to the U.S. mainland. It will, however, probably progress along the coast towards Belize and Guatemala, before entering Southern Mexico. It’s also possible that a slight turn to the north would bring the storm back into contact with the warmer waters of the Gulf, increasing its power and potential threat.

Source: NHC – http://www.nhc.noaa.gov. and news reports

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