Hurricane Frances has strengthened substantially as it continues on a northwestern path over the open waters of the Northern Caribbean. Maximum sustained winds remain near 140 mph (220 km/hr) with higher gusts, making the storm a Category Four Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale.
Miami’s National Hurricane Center, which is closely monitoring the storm’s progress, said that, “while fluctuations in intensity are expected during the next 24 hours, Frances could still intensify a little more before reaching the hurricane warning area [for the U.S.]. Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 70 miles (110 kms) from the center and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 185 miles (295 kms).”
Frances is potentially a far more deadly hurricane than Charley, mainly because it’s almost seven times bigger. Charley’s hurricane force winds extended outward around 6 miles from the storm’s center.
The center is currently north of the Dominican Republic near latitude 21.0 north – longitude 67.9 west or about 210 miles (340 kms) east of Grand Turk Island. It is moving toward the west-northwest at a speed of around 17 mph (27 km/hr), “and this general motion is expected to continue for the next 24 hours,” said the NHC’s latest bulletin. “On this track the core of the hurricane will be passing near or over the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas during the next 24 hours.” A hurricane warning is in effect for all of the islands in the storm’s path.
So far the NHC has seen no indication that the path of the storm is altering. If there’s no change in direction, Frances will remain heading straight for the Eastern Coast of Florida, and would strike land around Orlando sometime late Saturday afternoon.
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