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Hurricane Ivan on course to Jamaica

Hurricane Ivan on course to Jamaica

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BARRING an 11th hour shift in its direction, Hurricane Ivan, having already wreaked havoc in the southern Caribbean, was on course to hit Jamaica with a thumping blow today (Friday 10) and forecasters warned that its impact could be more ferocious than Gilbert 16 years ago. {{more}}
Gilbert left several people dead and over US$600 million in damage when it struck Jamaica on September 12, 1988.
“In terms of the strength it (Ivan) is more intense than Gilbert when it hit us,” said Evan Thompson, head of the weather branch of the Meteorological Service of Jamaica.
“Gilbert was a category three when it hit us, then became a category four and then a category five when it left us,” Thompson said. “This system is already a category four and could develop into a category five before it hits us.”
At 4:00 pm on Wednesday, Ivan was 650 miles east south-east of Jamaica’s westerly tip, travelling in a west north-westerly direction at a healthy clip of 17 1/2 miles an hour – speed that would have it bearing onto Jamaica by early tomorrow.
“By Friday morning, the centre is predicted to be off Jamaica’s south coast, preparing to make its way across the island,” the Meteorological Office said last night.
But its impact, if the storm stays the course, will be felt long before then, for while its hurricane force winds – over 74 miles an hour – extends for 69 miles from its centre, its tropical storm force winds reached up to 162 miles.
The storm packed maximum sustained winds of nearly 138 miles an hour. But forecasters warned that it could get worse as the storm, which passed just north of the Dutch Caribbean islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao yesterday, headed across the warm waters of the central Caribbean.
“This is where a further development of the system is most likely,” the Met Office said.
With the storm keeping Jamaica in its focus, Prime Minister P J Patterson urged people to take all necessary precautions and to follow the instructions of disaster management and relief officials.
“We can avert unnecessary tragedy and minimise damage if we act sensibly,” Patterson said.

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