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August 2010

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News August 2010

Strengthening Hurricane Earl may rake U.S. east coast, Aug 31, 2010

Hurricane Earl strengthened into a powerful Category 4 storm on Monday after lashing the northeast Caribbean islands, and was expected to swipe the U.S. East Coast in the next few days, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

But the Miami-based forecasters said it was too early to say which part of the U.S. eastern seaboard might be impacted by Earl, the second major hurricane of the 2010 Atlantic season.

Earl had sustained winds of 135 mph and could strengthen in the next two days, the forecasters said.

The hurricane was moving west-northwest on a curving track that the National Hurricane Center said would take it near Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, on Thursday and Friday.

A direct hit could not be ruled out, and Earl was expected to bring drenching rain, dangerous seas and surf and gusting wind to the Atlantic Coast from North Carolina to New England and Canada, said Alex Sosnowski, a senior meteorologist for private forecaster AccuWeather.

"How nasty the weather gets in this region will depend on the exact track of Earl and its proximity to the coast," Sosnowski said in a posting on the AccuWeather website.

If Earl swings farther west than expected, heavy rain could sweep the Interstate 95 corridor from North Carolina to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York City, he said.

On its current path, Earl posed no threat to the Gulf of Mexico, where major U.S. oil and gas installations are located.

Hovensa LLC said operations were normal at its 500,000 barrel-per-day refinery on the island of St. Croix but that the refinery's harbor and all other ports in the U.S. Virgin Islands had been closed because of Earl.

At 5 p.m. EST, the hurricane's center was 110 miles northeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Earlier, the hurricane buffeted the northernmost Leeward Islands of the Caribbean with fierce winds, driving rain and pounding waves as it passed.

The world's three largest cruise Lines -- Carnival Corp, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line -- changed their Caribbean itineraries and rerouted at least seven ships to avoid the storm.

POWER OUTAGES, TREES TOPPLED

Residents on the island of St. Martin/St. Maarten, its two halves respectively administered by France and the Netherlands, said Earl's passage caused power outages and toppled trees.
"Now the wind is really blowing, incredibly strong ... I've seen a lot of tree damage ... I would certainly assume roofs off, I'm watching mine very carefully," Steve Wright, general manager of the Grand Case Beach Club in Grand Case, St. Martin, told Reuters.

"It's nothing that we haven't seen before but I'm surprised at the ferocity of the winds right now," he said.

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

In Antigua, some flooding in low-lying areas was reported. After the hurricane passed, Antigua and Barbuda Governor General Dame Louise Lake-Tack declared a national holiday to allow residents of the twin-island state to mop up.

The forecasters said hurricane conditions would gradually subside over Puerto Rico on Monday evening, while the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeast Bahamas would get tropical storm conditions as Earl passed east of them in the next few days.

The ports of the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Puerto Rican ports of Vieques, Culebra, Fajardo, and San Juan were closed, the U.S. Coast Guard said. Government offices and schools in eastern Puerto Rico were shut.

Elsewhere in the Atlantic, the hurricane center said Tropical Storm Fiona had formed about 890 miles east of the Leeward Islands. Fiona had top winds of 40 mph and was moving west at 24 mph on a course that was expected to take it northeast of the Leeward Islands on Wednesday and east of Bermuda by Sunday.

None of the forecast models took Fiona into the Gulf of Mexico.

In the North Atlantic, Hurricane Danielle, which was a major Category 4 storm last week, weakened to a tropical storm as its sustained winds fell to 70 mph. It was expected to weaken further and lose its tropical characteristics later in the day. It was about 425 miles south southeast of Cape Race, Newfoundland.

Hurricane Earl strengthens in Caribbean, Aug 30, 2010

Hurricane Earl strengthened as it began buffeting the Northern Leeward islands in the Caribbean on Monday and was seen becoming a powerful storm within the next 24 hours, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Earl carried sustained winds of 105 miles per hour and was a Category 2 hurricane in the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of intensity.

"Hurricane conditions are now spreading into the Northern Leeward Islands and will spread westward into the Virgin Islands later today," the hurricane center said in its 5 a.m. advisory.

"Earl is expected to become a major hurricane by tonight or early Tuesday," it added.

The storm's center was 50 miles east-northeast of the French overseas island of St. Martin and moving north-northwest.

Hurricane warnings were in effect through the Caribbean, including the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Antigua and Barbuda and the British overseas territories of Montserrat and Anguilla.

Tropical storm conditions were expected to spread over the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico on Monday, with hurricane conditions possible by evening.

The hurricane center warned of a storm surge, dangerous waves and heavy rains that could cause flash flooding and mudslides in areas of higher elevation.

Caribbean airLine LIAT canceled 41 flights to several destinations in the eastern Caribbean and shut down its reservation service because of Earl's approach, according to a company statement.

Forecasters said Earl could affect the U.S. East Coast later this week.

"It looks like the storm will be east of the Bahamas on Wednesday, east of Cape Hatteras on Thursday and then probably east of or near Cape Cod and Long Island on Friday," Miami's WFOR-TV forecaster Jeff Berardelli said on CBS radio.

In the North Atlantic, Hurricane Danielle, a major Category 4 storm last week, was barely a hurricane on Monday morning as its sustained winds fell to 75 mph. The storm was expected to lose its tropical characteristics later in the day.

It was about 440 miles south of Newfoundland.

Danielle getting stronger, heading toward Bermuda, August 26, 2010
Hurricane Danielle is getting a little stronger in the open Atlantic as it heads toward Bermuda.

Danielle's maximum sustained winds increased Thursday to 105 mph (165 kph) and additional strengthening is expected.

Danielle is located about 860 miles (1,385 kilometers) southeast of Bermuda and moving northwest near 16 mph (26 kph).

Farther east in the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Earl is also getting stronger and now has maximum sustained winds near 45 mph (75 kph). Forecasters expect Earl to become a hurricane either late Friday or early Saturday.

In the Pacific off Mexico's coast, Hurricane Frank is expected to get stronger later in the day but then start gradually weakening Friday as it moves over cooler waters.