Wilma should avoid the central US Gulf coast devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita earlier this year
According to meteorological forecasts, Wilma is expected to become another powerful hurricane today with winds that may top 131 mph (211 kph), the National Hurricane Center said. Wilma's winds strengthened to 110 mph yesterday, making it a Category 2 hurricane on the five-tier Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale. Wilma is the 12th hurricane of the Atlantic Ocean season, tying a 1969 record.
Wilma has grown into a dangerous Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph. It was only Tuesday morning that Wilma grew from a tropical storm into a weak hurricane, with 80 mph winds.
The new hurricane prepares to brush Central America, Mexico, Cuba and Florida. The US National Hurricane Center in Miami said early projections show the storm's outer bands were likely to rake Honduras and the Cayman Islands before it turns toward the narrow Yucatan Channel between western Cuba and the Cancun region of Mexico as "a major hurricane." It was then aimed at Florida. Meteorologists say that forecasts are subject to change, for the hurricane is expected to hit land by weekend. Florida has seen seven hurricanes hit or pass close by since August 2004, causing more than Е10 billion in estimated damage and killing nearly 150 people. But forecasters said Wilma should avoid the central US Gulf coast devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita earlier this year.
Hurricane Wilma triggered mudslides that killed up to 10 people in Haiti as the season's record-tying 21st storm strengthened rapidly Tuesday and headed for the Gulf of Mexico. Wilma was moving west-northwest at 8 mph and was expected to turn northwest Wednesday. The hurricane center predicted Wilma would skirt western Cuba Friday and curve east toward Florida's southern Gulf coast.
Storm alerts were in effect for the Cayman Islands, parts of Cuba, Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and coastal Honduras.
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