Hanna Heading for U.S. – Ike Now a Category 4 Hurricane

September 4, 2008

Tropical storm Hanna is on the verge of regaining hurricane strength, as it slowly approaches the U.S. mainland. The latest update from Miami’s National Hurricane Center indicates that “maximum sustained winds have increased to near 70 mph (110 km/hr) with higher gusts.”

The NHC said that Hanna “could become a hurricane before reaching the southeast U.S. coast.” Although fairly weak in terms of wind speed – central barometric pressure is a relatively high 990 mbs – Hanna is unusually large and somewhat disorganized. The NHC describes it as a “sprawling” storm. Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 290 miles (465 kms) from the center.

That center is currently located around 295 miles (480 kms) east-southeast of Nassau and about 770 miles (1235 kms) south-southeast of Wilmington North Carolina. It is “moving toward the northwest near 12 mph [19 km/hr], and this motion is expected to continue during the next couple of days with a gradual increase in forward speed,” said the NHC.

The storm’s center is expected to pass just east of the central and northwestern Bahamas today, “and will be near the southeast coast of the United States by Friday or Friday night.” The NHC said a “hurricane watch is in effect from Surf City North Carolina southwestward to north of Edisto Beach South Carolina, and a tropical storm watch is in effect from Edisto beach southwestward to Altamaha Sound Georgia.”

Hurricane Ike is right behind Hanna. It has now gained in strength with wind speeds near 145 mph (230 km/hr), which makes it “an extremely dangerous category four hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale,” said the NHC.

While Ike’s current projected storm track indicates that it will not pose an immediate threat to the U.S., it could come ashore on a number of Caribbean islands, Haiti and Cuba before entering the Gulf of Mexico.

The NHC is also tracking tropical storm Josephine, which is still far out in the Atlantic off of the Cape Verde Islands.

Source: National Hurricane Center – http://www.nhc.noaa.gov

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