Home>News Center>World

Honduras, Caribbean brace for Hurricane Wilma
Updated: 2005-10-19 09:16

Hurricane Wilma whirled into the record books as the 12th such storm of the season, strengthening late Tuesday and setting a course to sideswipe Central America or Mexico. Forecasters warned of a "significant threat" to Florida by the weekend.

Wilma became a Category 2 hurricane late Tuesday with winds near 100 mph, up from 80 mph earlier in the day.

Forecasters warned that Wilma was likely to rake Honduras and the Cayman Islands before turning toward the narrow Yucatan Channel between Cuba and Mexico's Cancun region — then move into the storm-weary Gulf.

The hurricane's outer bands brought rain, high winds and heavy surf to the Atlantic coasts of Honduras and Nicaragua, but Honduran emergency officials said they had not yet ordered any evacuations.

By 8 p.m. EDT, the hurricane was centered about 185 miles south of Grand Cayman Island and it was moving toward the west-northwest at nearly 8 mph, according to the Hurricane Center.

A satellite image of Hurricane Wilma, October 18, 2005.
A satellite image of Hurricane Wilma, October 18, 2005. [Reuters]
Wilma was already blamed for one death in Jamaica as a tropical depression on Sunday.

"It does look like it poses a significant threat to Florida by the weekend. Of course, these are four- and five-day forecasts, so things can change," said Dan Brown, a meteorologist at the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

Wilma is the record-tying 12th hurricane of the season, the same number reached in 1969; 12 is the most in one season since record-keeping began in 1851.

On Monday, Wilma became the Atlantic hurricane season's 21st named storm, tying the record set in 1933 and exhausting the list of names for this year.

The deadly season has already witnessed the devastation of Katrina and Rita in the past two months, which killed more than 1,200 people and caused billions of dollars in damage.

Honduras and its neighbors already are recovering from flooding and mudslides caused earlier this month from storms related to Hurricane Stan. At least 796 people were killed, most of them in Guatemala, with many more still missing.

The government of flood-prone Honduras warned that Hurricane Wilma posed "an imminent threat to life and property of the people of the Atlantic coast." Neighboring Nicaragua also declared an alert.

Honduran President Ricardo Maduro declared "a maximum alert" along the northern coast and his office said emergency personnel and resources had been sent to the area, where evacuations were possible.

In Nicaragua, national disaster prevention chief Geronimo Giusto said the army, police and rescue workers were being mobilized and evacuation points readied.

Authorities in the Cayman Islands earlier called an alert and Jamaican officials evacuated 100 people from low-lying communities flooded by rain associated with Wilma. They said a 35-year-old farmer drowned in a river Sunday while trying to rescue goats.

Forecasters said Wilma should avoid the central U.S. Gulf coast that was devastated by Katrina and Rita. "There's no scenario now that takes it toward Louisiana or Mississippi, but that could change," said Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center.

Florida, meanwhile, has seen seven hurricanes hit or pass close by since August 2004, causing more than $20 billion in estimated damage and killing nearly 150 people.

The six-month hurricane season ends Nov. 30. Wilma is the last on the list of storm names for 2005; there are 21 names on the yearly list because the letters Q, U, X, Y and Z are skipped.

If any other storms form, letters from the Greek alphabet would be used, starting with Alpha, for the first time. Storms have gotten alphabetical names only in the past 60 years.

There have been 10 late-season hurricanes of Category 3 or higher since 1995.

Saddam on trial Wednesday
Rumsfeld in town to discuss military exchanges
Franz Muentefering to be German vice chancellor
  Today's Top News     Top World News

China postpones Japanese foreign minister's trip



Guardian admits Taishi reporting false



Rumsfeld visit to pave way for summit meet



Saddam lawyer to seek 3-month adjournment



PetroKazakhstan shareholders OK CNPC bid



Snow urges faster China reform


  Saddam lawyer to seek 3-month adjournment
  PetroKazakhstan shareholders OK CNPC bid
  Iran detains more than 20 over bombings
  Final results from Iraq referendum delayed
  US upbeat on nuclear deal with India
  Iran's hardline press calls for cutting UK ties
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  News Talk  
  Are the Republicans exploiting the memory of 9/11?