The National Hurricane Center’s latest bulletin on Hurricane Frances, issued this morning, confirmed that the storm is a category 3 hurricane, packing winds near 125 mph (205 km/hr.) with higher gusts.
The NHC said “some strengthening is forecast during the next 24 hours.” Frances is a big and potentially very destructive storm. The NHC reported that “hurricane force winds extend outward up to 70 miles (110 km.) from the center and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 kms).” If it follows the NHC’s projected storm track, Frances would strike Florida’s Eastern Coast between West Palm Beach and Daytona Beach late Saturday afternoon.
“Frances is moving toward the west near 15 mph (24 km/hr),” said the NHC. “A gradual turn toward the west-northwest is expected during the next 24 hours. On this track the core of the hurricane will pass to the North of the Northern Leeward Islands and Virgin Islands today.”
The government of the Bahamas issued a hurricane watch for the southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands this morning, while other islands in the Caribbean seem to have escaped. The government of Antigua has discontinued a tropical storm warning for Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis.
However, tropical storm warnings remain in effect for the Leeward Islands, Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico, Culebra, Vieques and the U.S. Virgin islands of St. Thomas, St. John and surrounding islands, as well as the British Virgin Islands. A tropical storm watch remains in effect for St. Martin, St. Barthelemy and St. Croix, as well as the Northern Coast of the Dominican Republic from Manzanillo Bay eastward to Cabo Engano.
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