Hurricane Felix strengthened into a
dangerous Category 5 storm Sunday and churned its way into the open
waters of the Caribbean Sea after toppling trees and flooding some
homes on a cluster of Dutch islands.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Felix was packing
maximum sustained winds of 165 mph as it plowed westward toward
Central America, where it was expected to skirt Honduras' coastline
Tuesday before slamming into Belize on Wednesday as a hurricane
capable of massive destruction.
On Sunday, Felix lashed Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire with rains
and winds, causing scattered power outages and forcing thousands of
tourists to take refuge in hotels. But residents expressed relief
it did far less damage than feared as the storm's outer bands just
grazed the tiny islands.
"Thankfully we didn't get a very bad storm. My dog slept
peacefully through the night," said Bonaire medical administrator
Siomara Albertus, who waited out the storm in her home.
The storm forced tens of thousands of tourists and residents on
the three islands to remain in their homes and hotels, stocked with
water, flashlights and emergency provisions.
In Curacao, about a dozen homes in a low-lying area were
flooded. In Aruba, there was little visible damage, although at
least one catamaran snapped off its mooring and a house was damaged
by a downed tree. A northern settlement had a temporary power
Many Bonaire residents had prepared for the worst, installing
storm shutters and hauling their boats ashore, but the storm's
winds left little damage.
Felix became the second Atlantic hurricane of the season on
Saturday evening, following Hurricane Dean, which left at least 20
dead in the Caribbean and carved out a destructive swath that
stretched from St. Lucia to Mexico.
At 8 p.m. EDT, the storm was centered about 390 miles southeast
of Jamaica and was moving west-northwest at about 18 mph, the
hurricane center said.
On Saturday, Felix brought heavy rains and strong winds to
Grenada as a tropical storm, ripping roofs off at least two homes
and destroying a popular concert venue. No injuries were reported
and the Grenadian government was still assessing the damage Sunday.
The government of the Cayman Islands issued a tropical storm
watch for Grand Cayman, the wealthy British territory's main
island. A watch means that tropical storm conditions could begin
affecting the island within 36 hours.
Jamaica's government also issued a tropical storm watch. The
island was battered by Hurricane Dean on Aug. 19.
In Belize, residents stocked up on water and food, and nailed
boards over their windows to protect against the hurricane's
howling winds. Many in low-lying areas sought higher ground.
Things were more calm in Honduras, where authorities were
keeping a close eye on the storm but hadn't started evacuations.
Along the country's northern coastline, tourists were still
lounging by the pool and enjoying the sun.
On Honduras' Roatan Island, home to luxury resorts and pristine
reefs, the weather was normal and guests were simply enjoying their
vacations, Mayan Princess Beach Resort & Spa employee Arturo Rich
Rebecca Waddington, a meteorologist at the hurricane center,
advised employees of oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico to monitor
Felix's progress and said the storm could reach the area in four to
Along the Pacific coast of Mexico, meanwhile, authorities
discontinued storm warnings as Tropical Storm Henriette moved out
Henriette dumped heavy rain on western Mexico earlier, loosening
a giant boulder that smashed into a home in Acapulco, killing an
adult and two children and injuring two other people. A teenager
and her two brothers were also killed when a landslide slammed into
their house in a poor neighborhood of the resort city.
Forecasters put it on a path that would not threaten land until
Thursday, when it could hit a remote section of the Baja California
Associated Press Writer Linda Straker in St. George's, Grenada,
contributed to this report.
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