NHC Issues Hurricane Watch as Frances’ Threat to Florida Grows

September 2, 2004

The latest bulletin from the National Hurricane Center in Miami confirms that a “Hurricane Watch remains in effect for the Florida East Coast from Florida City Northward to Flagler Beach, including Lake Okeechobee.” The coastal area runs from just above the Keys to north of Daytona Beach, a distance of over 300 miles.

The NHC explained that a “hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 36 hours. A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected within the warning area within the next 24 hours. It noted that “some or all of the hurricane watch area will likely be upgraded to a hurricane warning Thursday morning.”

Frances is currently about 555 miles East-Southeast of Palm Beach, and is moving toward the west-northwest at about 14-mph (22 km/hr). The NHC expects this general motion to continue for the next 24 hours. “Frances remains a category four hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale,” said the bulletin. “Reports from an Air Force reserve hurricane hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 145 mph (235 km/hr) with higher gusts.”

Some “fluctuations in intensity” can be expected during the next 24 hours. Frances, however, is a huge storm. “Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 80 miles (130 km) from the center, and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 185 miles (295 km),” said the NHC. It’s also dropping 5 to 10 inches of rainfall and storm surge tides are running 6 to 14 feet above normal tide levels, along with large and dangerous battering waves.

The center of the storm, as of the latest bulletin was about 35 miles (55km) Northeast of Mayaguana Island in the Bahamas. A hurricane warning remains in effect for all of the Bahamas and for the Turks and Caicos Islands. The NHC said it expected that “the large core of Hurricane Frances will be moving near or over the southeastern Bahamas this morning and near the Central Bahamas this afternoon and evening.”

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