Hurricane Dean now a Category 4 storm

Friday, August 17, 2007

Hurricane Dean 2 a.m. (EDT) update on August 18, 2007 courtesy of NOAA.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami now says that the Atlantic's first hurricane has reached Category 4 status, with winds up to 140 mph (225 km/h). Dean is now being called a "major hurricane."

While the storm is currently moving west through the Caribbean, additional strengthening is forecast within the next 24 hours.

A hurricane watch has now been issued for Haiti from the Haiti/Dominican Republic border to Port-au-Prince. The Dominican Republic government has changed the tropical storm watch to a tropical storm warning from Cabo Engano to Haiti. Also, a hurricane watch has now been issued from Cabo Beata to the Haiti.

At 1:45 p.m. EDT, the eye of the Hurricane Dean was 175 miles (282 km) west of Martinique and 300 miles (480 km) southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Tropical storm warnings continue to be in effect for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico as the storm is moving west at 22 mph (35 km/h) and could intensify over the warmer waters toward Jamaica.

Dean is currently forecast to dump two inches (~50 mm) of rain on Haiti and the Dominican Republic, with a few isolated areas receiving a possible five inches (~130 mm).

The National Hurricane Center says it is too early to project whether the storm poses a threat to the U.S..

The storm moved through St. Lucia and Martinique today, causing structural damage, knocking out power, and flooding roads. Also, a 62-year-old man drowned today, being the storm's first death.