Hurricane Katrina lands in US Florida, Killing 2
Hurricane Katrina dumped sheets of rain, kicked up the surf and blew strong winds along the densely populated southeast coast of Florida, the USA, Thursday, killing two people shortly after it struck land, reported AP.
Katrina's maximum sustained winds increased to 80 mph before the Category 1 storm made landfall along the Miami-Dade and Broward county line between Hallandale Beach and North Miami Beach, said hurricane specialist Lixion Avila with the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
An estimated 5.9 million Florida residents were in Katrina's projected path.
A man in his 20s in Fort Lauderdale was crushed by a falling tree as he sat alone in his car, while a pedestrian was killed by a falling tree in the Fort Lauderdale suburb of Plantation.
Rain fell in horizontal sheets and blew gusts of up to 92 mph, toppling trees and street signs. Seas were estimated at 15 feet, and sand blew across and covered waterfront streets. Florida Power & Light said more than 412,000 customers were without electricity.
"In essence, this is a very dangerous storm. It's important to take this seriously," Gov. Jeb Bush said.
As the storm took aim on the coast, flights were canceled at Miami and Fort Lauderdale airports.
The hurricane forced MTV to cancel or postpone some of the performances leading up to its award show, including festivities celebrating the release of Ricky Martin's new album. The show itself, planned for Sunday in Miami Beach, isn't expected to be affected.
Floridians wary of Katrina prepared by putting up shutters, stacking sandbags in doorways and stocking up on supplies.
"It's not that I'm worried. I've been in south Florida all my life," Butler said. "But this is a feature of life down here, and you are smart to deal with it."
At a Home Depot in Miami, Jose Guerrera, 68, loaded 4-by-8 sheets of plywood onto a metal cart. He and his family huddled in their Coral Gables home as Hurricane Andrew screamed by in 1993 and he has been boarding up the house during hurricanes ever since.
"I have to protect the doors and windows," Guerrera said. His wife, meanwhile, was shopping for water and food. "That's her problem. She's gotta take care of the food. I take care of the work."
Water management officials lowered canal levels to avoid possible flooding, and pumps were activated in several low-lying areas of Miami-Dade.
"I always prepare for hurricanes," said Icel Diaz, 29, a resident of the flood-prone city of Sweetwater in Miami-Dade, as she gathered some sandbags. "Sometimes I overprepare, buying too many supplies."
Dozens of surfers and spectators lined beaches from Palm Beach to Miami-Dade counties to take advantage of the massive waves on the normally placid seas, and long lines didn't seem to be a problem at most area gas stations, supermarkets and hardware stores.
"This is the best of both worlds because it'll bring great waves, but it is not at all dangerous," said surfer Kurt Johnston, 22, of Davie.
Katrina was the second hurricane to hit the state this year ¡ª Dennis hit the Panhandle last month ¡ª and the sixth since Aug. 13, 2004. Katrina formed Wednesday over the Bahamas and was expected to cross Florida before heading into the Gulf of Mexico.
After crossing the peninsula, the storm could turn to the north over the Gulf of Mexico and threaten the Panhandle early next week, forecasters said. Bush encouraged residents of Florida's Panhandle and Big Bend areas to monitor the storm.
Katrina is the 11th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, which began June 1. That's seven more than have typically formed by now in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, the hurricane center said. The season ends Nov. 30.