Morant Bay, Jamaica
Hurricane Dennis passes Jamaica, heads for Cuba
Hurricane Dennis lashed Caribbean coastlines with winds whipped up to 115 mph Thursday as the first hurricane of the season threatened to intensify as it headed straight for Cuba.
Forecasters at the U.S. Hurricane Center in Miami predicted the storm could hit the United States anywhere from Florida to Louisiana by Sunday or Monday, raising fears that oil production in the Gulf of Mexico would be disrupted by the fourth storm in as many weeks.
The Florida Keys were under a hurricane warning Thursday and ordered tourists to evacuate, and the southern Florida peninsula was on tropical storm watch, expecting severe conditions within 36 hours.
In Jamaica, Prime Minister Percival Patterson urged people in low-lying areas to evacuate.
Oil futures rose sharply Wednesday on concerns about the storm, but closed down 55 cents Thursday, at $60.73, a barrel, as a series of terrorist blasts in London led investors to abandon riskier investments.
Dennis came right behind Tropical Storm Cindy, which made landfall late Tuesday in Louisiana and hindered oil production and refining.