August 29, 2008

Gustav Becomes A Hurricane

Gustav regained hurricane strength Friday afternoon as it moved from Jamaica to the Caymans.

A hurricane warning was in effect for the Cayman Islands and for much of western Cuba, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said. A tropical storm warning was in effect for Jamaica and central Cuba, and a tropical storm watch was posted over the lower Florida Keys from west of the Seven Mile Bridge westward to the Dry Tortugas.

At 8 p.m. EDT, the center of Gustav was 25 miles south of the islands of Little Cayman and Cayman Brac, about 90 miles east of Grand Cayman and about 365 miles east-southeast of the western tip of Cuba. Maximum sustained winds had increased to almost 80 mph with higher gusts.

Gustav is a Category 1 hurricane and is expected to gain strength Saturday and Sunday.

The storm was moving toward the northwest at about 11 mph. Gustav was expected to hit the Caymans late Friday and Cuba Saturday before heading for the Gulf Coast of the United States Saturday night or Sunday.

CNN said authorities in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Alabama activated storm plans Thursday, as the forecast five-day track shows an eventual U.S. landfall anywhere between Corpus Christi, Texas, and Panama City, Fla. Preparations included evacuating several thousand people living in trailers after their homes were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina three years ago.

Amtrak announced Friday that it was suspending rail service into and out of New Orleans at least through next Thursday. The Crescent, from New York to New Orleans won't run south of Atlanta, the City of New Orleans from Chicago will terminate at Memphis and the Sunset Limited from Los Angeles to Florida won't run east of San Antonio, with no alternate bus service provided on any route.


Image Caption: Hurricane Gustav over Hispaniola after first landfall on August 25, 2008. Courtesy NASA