Killer Storm Gustav Gains Strength; Could Threaten U.S. Gulf Coast

August 28, 2008

After causing more than 20 deaths in Haiti, Tropical Storm Gustav is now heading for Cuba, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.

The latest update from Miami’s National Hurricane Center indicates that Gustav is gaining strength, as it moves over the warmer waters of the Caribbean. Its present position is about 80 miles (130 kms) east of Kingston Jamaica and about 170 miles (270 kms) south of Guantanamo, Cuba.

The NHC reported: “Maximum sustained winds are near 50 mph [85 km/hr] with higher gusts. Strengthening is forecast over the next 48 hours and Gustav could regain hurricane strength by Friday.” The storm is moving toward the southwest near 8 mph (13 km/hr), but is expected to “turn toward the west” later today and to the west-northwest on Friday. It’s expected to pass “close to Jamaica later today,” said the NHC. “Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 50 miles [85 kms] from the center.”

On its projected storm track Gustav would pose a threat to drilling platforms off the U.S. Gulf Coast, by Monday morning, and could come ashore in Louisiana or Texas by Tuesday.

A report from Reuters said “Gustav is expected to morph into a powerful hurricane as it gains strength from the Gulf’s warm waters, and about 85 percent of U.S. offshore oil and gas production could be in its path.

“By midday Wednesday, weather forecasters were saying the storm could, as did Katrina and Rita, become a catastrophic category 5 hurricane with winds over 155 mph (248 kph] as it crosses the Gulf, which provides a quarter of U.S. crude oil production and 15 percent of the nation’s natural gas output.” Oil companies operating in the Gulf were reportedly preparing to evacuate workers and close down production, as the storm nears.

Source: National Hurricane Center – and Reuters

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