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Monday, September 03, 2007

Dangerous Felix heading for Central America

Hurricane Felix intensified rapidly last night to a Category 5 hurricane last night. This morning sustained winds were at 165 MPH with gusts recorded at 200 MPH by the hurricane hunter aircraft. Today, the Weather Channel reported that a hurricane hunter aircraft actually had to turn around due to the turbulence.

Category 5 Hurricane Felix Takes Aim at Honduras, Belize (Fox News)

Felix Becomes Category 5 Hurricane (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

Felix is expected to skirt along the northern coast of Honduras before slamming again into Belize. I thought the storm was going to head right into Bleize again in the same area as Dean did. Instead, Felix will cause some damage in Nicaragua and Honduras before heading back to the Yucatan peninsula.

Some of the comments in both of these reports really concern me. In Honduras, some residents are commenting on how the tourists are getting on flights out of the country but that they are staying:


Tourists filled Honduran airports seeking flights out before the storm, but
some locals said they would ride it out.

"The tourists, they're evacuating. We're staying here," said Estella
Marazzito, who works at a real estate company on the Caribbean resort island of Roatan.

"At this moment, it's what they call the
calm before the storm. There isn't even a breeze," she said, but added, "We know
it's a tremendous hurricane that's coming."

This is the type of complacency that gets people killed. I think it has been a while since Central America has had a bad storm so the memory goes weak. The idea that "we can ride it out" is a foolish one once a storm becomes major. A catostrophic storm such as Felix says one thing - get to high ground and away from the coast. As mountainous as Central America is, the heavy rain is likely to create mudslides and flash floods adding to the damage cause directly on the coast.

Additionally, some of the people in Belize, while being better prepared, might be tempted to stall their clean-up efforts from Hurricane Dean on the
basis that it will just get messed up again.

In Belize, residents stocked up on water and food, and nailed boards over windows. People in low-lying areas moved to higher ground.

And many were still cleaning up from last month's Hurricane Dean, which caused an estimated $100 million in damage, mostly to agriculture.

"I stopped cleaning debris and trees from my yard (because it) might just get messed up again," said Wayne Leonardo.

I urge everyone to at least secure the debris caused by the last storm if it cannot be cleaned up before the next one hits. Loose debris in 100 + MPH winds become lethal projectiles. Leaving the damage sit there could cause additional damage and deathes as loose flying material would damage anything that it crashes into.



Based on the computer projections, Felix may make only one landfall and not enter the Bay of Campeche. This will bring much more rain to central Mexico but will greatly reduce the threat to the offshore oil platforms in the Bay that were shut down during Dean's visit.

The liklihood that Felix will curve north and threaten south Texas seems remote at this time.



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