Image: A satellite image of Hurricane Dean, taken on August 16, 2007. REUTERS/NOAA
Category 2 Hurricane Dean strengthened and threatened to become a dangerously powerful storm as it plowed toward the Caribbean and aimed for Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula or the Gulf of Mexico beyond, forecasters said on Thursday. More immediately in the path of the 2007 Atlantic storm season's first hurricane were the Lesser Antilles, in particular the islands of Dominica and St. Lucia and the French territories of Martinique and Guadeloupe. The hurricane's top sustained winds had reached 100 miles per hour (160 km per hour) by 8 p.m. Thursday. Computer models showed the hurricane could become an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm as it passed south of Jamaica early next week. Category 3 to 5 hurricanes, such as Katrina, Rita and Wilma in the devastating 2005 Atlantic storm season, are potentially the most destructive storms but a Category 2 hurricane can still damage buildings and create a 6- to 8-foot (1.8 metre to 2.4 metre) storm surge. A tropical storm watch, meaning tropical storm conditions could be expected within 36 hours, was issued for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
Dean Grows Stronger, Now Category 3 Storm
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Authorities said Hurricane Dean is being blamed for at least one death as the storm moves through the Caribbean. Dean, which has strengthened into a Category 3 storm with 125-mile-an-hour sustained winds, has ripped the roofs from homes and knocked out power on the islands of St. Lucia and Martinique.