Hurricane Felix gathers strength

The second hurricane of the season is predicted to reach a category 3 storm.

    Residents are told to expect heavy rains
    as the storm nears [Reuters]
    Saffir-Simpson Hurricane scale


    Category 1 – Winds 119-153kph

    Minor coastal flooding and structural damage

    Category 2 – Winds 154-177kph

    Damage to roofs, mobile homes and shanty houses. Some trees uprooted. Small boats may break moorings

    Category 3 – Winds 178-209kph

    Damage to buildings, mobile homes destroyed. Severe flooding near to coast

    Category 4 – Winds 210-249kph

    Major structural damage, roofs destroyed. Storm surge around 5m requiring widespread evacuation of coastal areas

    Category 5 – Winds 249kph or higher

    Serious damage to all but strongest buildings. Severe flooding far inland, all trees blown down. Storm surge up to 6m above normal

    Eric Blake, a forecaster at a hurricane centre in Miami, said: "We are forecasting it [Felix] to be a Category 3 hurricane in the northwestern Caribbean Sea by the middle of the week."

    Residents in Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao have been told to expect storm conditions within 24 hours.

    The islands can expect up to 10cm of rain.

    There are no indications that Felix will reach the Gulf of Mexico, where a third of US domestic crude oil and 15 per cent of natural gas production is located.

    However, according to the national hurricane centre, long-range forecasts are unreliable.

    Close monitoring

    Energy markets have watched tropical storms and hurricanes since the Atlantic hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005, when hurricanes Ivan, Katrina and Rita disrupted supplies.

    The 2007 hurricane season is approaching its peak. Most storms occur between August 20 and mid-October, reaching a peak around September 10.

    In late August, Dean hit Martinique, St Lucia and other islands in the Lesser Antilles chain.

    It also hit Jamaica and then struck Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula before weakening over the Mexican mainland.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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