Felix declared Category 5 hurricane

Storm turns "extremely dangerous" as it moves across Central America.

    Felix is the Atlantic storm season's second hurricane; Dean claimed 25 lives last month [AFP]

    Possible catastrophic damage


    Last month Hurricane Dean, the first in the Atlantic hurricane season, turned into a Category 5 storm, killing at least 27 people along a similar route.


    Category 5 hurricanes are rare and are capable of causing catastrophic damage.

    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

    Forecasters said that after passing Curacao and Aruba, the storm was expected to spin over the open waters of the central Caribbean, before skirting Honduras's northern coastline on Tuesday and ploughing into Belize on Wednesday.

    Residents of Curacao, unfamiliar to hurricanes which normally track further to the north, stocked up on emergency supplies as supermarkets remained open late into the night.


    The authorities opened shelters for coastal residents and closed the island's airport for several hours.


    However, neither Curacao nor its sister island Bonaire reported casualties.


    Herbert Domacasse, Bonaire's lieutenant governor, said the local population and visitors remained in their homes and hotels overnight.


    "No calls were received on the emergency line set up in preparation for the storm," he said.


    Hurricane watches in Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire were lifted but storm watches were up for Jamaica and Grand Cayman although forecasters expected Felix to keep well to the south as it moved west-northwest.


    Oil watch
    Rebecca Waddington, a meteorologist at the hurricane centre, advised employees of oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico to monitor Felix's progress.
    She said the storm could reach the area - where a third of US domestic crude oil and 15 per cent of natural gas production is located - in four to five days.
    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 2005 season experienced four category 5 hurricanes including Katrina, Rita and Wilma.

    Most storms hit from August 20 to mid-October, with September 10 marking the statistical height of the season.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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