HURRICANE FELIX GROWS TO 'POTENTIALLY CATASTROPHIC' CATEGORY 5
September 7, 2007
(CNN) -- Hurricane
Felix has grown to a "potentially catastrophic" Category 5 storm packing winds up to 165 mph (270 kph), the National Hurricane
Center said late Sunday.
Category 5 is the fiercest class of hurricane, with storm surges greater than 18
feet above normal.
The second hurricane of the Atlantic season, Felix prompted the Honduran government to issue a hurricane watch.
As of 2 a.m. ET, Felix was about 295 miles (475 kilometers) east-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica,
and about 555 miles (890 kilometers) east of Cabo Gracias a Dios on the Nicaragua-Honduras border. The storm was churning
westward at about 21 mph, the NHC said, and the hurricane is expected to approach Central America
The hurricane watch in Honduras applies from Limon to the Nicaragua border, the NHC said. Hurricane conditions are also
possible over extreme northeastern Nicaragua.
A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions -- including sustained winds of 74 mph or higher -- are possible in the
area within about 36 hours.
The hurricane center called Felix "an extremely powerful" storm but said it "has a very small wind field," with hurricane-force
winds currently extending outward up to only 25 miles from the storm's center.
A tropical storm watch remained in effect for Jamaica and for Grand Cayman Island, meaning that tropical storm conditions -- including surface winds ranging from 39 mph to 73 mph -- were possible within
the next 36 hours.
All watches and storm warnings for the islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao had been
Felix hit Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire with heavy winds and rain over the weekend. Thousands
of tourists took shelter in hotels, The Associated Press reported.
But Bonaire medical administrator Siomara Albertus said she was happy the storm wasn't
as bad as she had anticipated. "Thankfully we didn't get a very bad storm," she told the AP. "My dog slept peacefully through
Although long-term predictions of hurricane behavior are not wholly reliable, forecasts called for Felix to pass just
north of the Honduran coast before possibly hitting Belize
on Tuesday or Wednesday, said CNN meteorologist Jacqui Jeras. Felix is then expected to cross the Yucatan
Peninsula and head out over the Gulf of Mexico,
Any potential direct impact on the United States would come no sooner
than Friday or Saturday along the Texas coast, Jeras added.
Felix's pace is expected to continue for the next 24 hours as it heads Sunday night away from the Netherlands Antilles
and into the open waters of the central Caribbean.
The NHC also said Felix is expected to dump 2 to 4 inches of rain over
the Guajira Peninsula of northern Colombia.
Hurricane Dean was the first hurricane of the Atlantic season, hitting Mexico
twice in August.
After causing several deaths in the Caribbean, Dean slammed into the Yucatan
Peninsula as a Category 5 storm; it hit the Mexican shore again near the key port
city of Veracruz as a Category 2 with top sustained winds
of 100 mph (160 kph).
In the Pacific, the Mexican government canceled all warnings Saturday night pertaining to Tropical Storm Henriette, as
the storm moved away from Mexico's mainland.