Nicaragua hit by "Catastrophic Hurricane Felix." The poor are stranded while thousands of tourists are saved.
September 4, 2007
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the ominous skull pattern sits in the center of this satellite image of Hurricane Felix over Nicaragua and Hondurasprovided by the US NavyNicaragua hit by "Catastrophic Hurricane Felix." The poor are stranded while thousands of tourists are saved. - Port au Prince, Haiti - Before Category 5 Hurricane Felix got its name and entered the Caribbean last week, the forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami provided tracking models that showed that Felix would be traveling almost due west at a heading of 270-280 meaning - at the least - the eastern coast of the "poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere" would see significant Tropical Storm conditions where an estimated 11,000 people died as a result of Hurricane Mitch nine years ago.

Agence France-Presse reported that "…several hundred tourists were earlier taken to safety by air and sea from the islands of Roatan and Guanaja, which are popular with scuba divers..." while dozens of fishermen are now stranded at sea making distress calls that authorities claim that they won't be able to answer. Why a fishing vessel with 45 fishermen was still off the coast of Puerto Cabezas to be in danger has not been explained.


All week thousands of affluent tourists have been evacuated while local populations "decided to stay." In contrast, the government of Cuba is able to mobilize public safety teams that successfully evacuate even the most remote regions as dangerous storms approach. With two extremely dangerous hurricanes — Ivan (2004) and Dennis (2005) — there were only two reported deaths after Hurricane Dennis and no deaths for the more powerful Ivan.

As Felix has moved across northern Nicaragua it has maintained its relative strength and formation as it approaches the formidable mountains near the border with Honduras where it is likely to weaken significantly. As with Hurricane Mitch the biggest danger came from the flash floods and deadly mudslides. NOAA forecasters are predicting that "precipitation enhanced by the steep topography" could result in "rainfall totals as high as 25 inches."

The path of Felix was unusual as it traveled south of the "Hurricane Belt." This is the first time on record that two Category 5 - on the Saffir-Simpson scale - Atlantic hurricanes have hit land. Hurricane Dean slammed into the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico at category 5 August 21. It's likely that the magnitude of Hurricane Felix of 2007 will mean that the name will be retired from use. There were previous hurricanes that used the name "Felix" in 2001 and 1994

Earlier in the week another storm system was developing Mid-Atlantic that was expected to become another named storm Gabrielle. For now that system has "dried" up even though the formation is drifting around, the discussion is that the disorganized system could be absorbed by the large tropical wave approaching from the east - currently along 31W and south of 22N.


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