September 8, 2008

Ike Leaves Cuba — at Least for Now

Cuba said goodbye, for now, to Hurricane Ike, its rain and 100-mph winds as it pushed out over water, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said Monday

The center said Hurricane Ike was located about 250 miles east-southeast of Havana, the NHC said. The storm was moving westward at about 14 mph, and NHC forecasters said they expected the storm to move west-northwest later Monday.

A hurricane warning remained in effect in at least a dozen Cuban provinces.

Ike's center is expected to travel near the southern coast of central Cuba through Monday, then make a second landfall in the western portion of the island nation Tuesday before moving into the Gulf by Tuesday night, the NHC said in its early afternoon advisory.

Large swells generated by Ike were expected to affect parts of the southeastern U.S. coast for the next few days, possibly generating dangerous rip currents, the center reported.

Ike was expected to produce rainfall of 6-12 inches in Cuba, with up to 20 inches in isolated instances.

Tornadoes were possible in Florida's extreme southern peninsula and Keys until Tuesday, the center said. In addition, up to three inches of rain were possible over the Keys.

Ike was expected to deliver a glancing blow to the Keys as it moved into the Gulf, Meteorologist Dave Samuhel said.

Samuhel said the Category 2 storm was expected re-energize as it moves across the warm Gulf waters and could reach Category 3 strength by the weekend as it tracks toward a landfall somewhere in the central U.S. Gulf Coast.