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Archive for Saturday, November 19, 2005

Gamma could hit Florida

November 19, 2005

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— Tropical Storm Gamma - the 24th storm of the busiest hurricane season on record - formed Friday off the coast of Central America, and forecasters said it could threaten Florida by the beginning of next week, perhaps as a hurricane.

Tropical storm warnings were issued for the coast of Belize and the Bay Islands of Honduras. Mexico issued a tropical storm watch for the eastern Yucatan Peninsula, which was hit hard in October by Hurricane Wilma. Six to 15 inches of rain were possible.

The long-term track from the National Hurricane Center indicated that Gamma may take a path similar to Wilma's and head northeast toward the Florida Peninsula. Wilma sliced across the southern portion of the state Oct. 24, causing widespread power outages and more than 20 deaths.

At 9 p.m. CDT, Gamma's maximum sustained winds were near 45 mph and it was located about 45 miles north-northwest of Limon, Honduras, and about 175 miles east-southeast of Belize City, Belize, moving northwest at near 5 mph.

The storm caused flooding and landslides in Honduras that killed at least two people and prompted the government to evacuate hundreds from coastal towns. President Ricardo Maduro said soldiers were bringing in food, water, medicine and blankets.

In Belize, a small plane belonging to the exclusive Blancaneaux Lodge resort, owned by filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, disappeared Friday shortly after taking off with two passengers, whose names were not released. A search was also under way for five fisherman whose boat capsized.

Gamma extended the Atlantic's record-breaking storm season. The previous record of 21 named storms had stood since 1933, and for the first time, officials had to turn to the Greek alphabet for names.

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