Gustav threatens Caymans after swamping Jamaica
The Associated Press,
KINGSTON, Jamaica - Deadly Gustav regained hurricane force as it roared across the Caribbean on Friday, and on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's landfall, forecasters said for the first time there's a better-than-even chance that New Orleans will get slammed at least by tropical-storm-force winds.
Gustav ripped off roofs, downed power lines and pounded rain into
Forecasters said Gustav reached hurricane force at 75 mph (120 kph) Friday afternoon and will likely grow into a major hurricane over deep, warm
"Strengthening seems imminent and could even be rapid," said the
The chances of New Orleans seeing winds of 39 mph (63 kph) or more within five days was between 50 percent and 60 percent, it said, warning that weather models "diverge tremendously over the northern Gulf" and that the most destructive winds could strike almost anywhere along the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said that victims of Katrina still living in 2,700 emergency trailer and 2,800 cottages along his state's coast should should begin evacuating on Sunday, ahead of Gustav.
The government also evacuated low-lying areas and closed the capital's main airport, and more than 1,500 people huddled in shelters. Late Friday morning, police and firefighters were among the only people on the streets of Savanna-La-Mar as Gustav's winds howled through the western port city, blowing debris in the pouring rain.
"It looks pretty bad out there," said Lelith Garwood, a pastor's wife. "We are being ordered to stay home."
Two people were killed in
The hurricane center said the storm was centered 125 miles (200 kilometers) east-southeast of Grand Cayman and moving over open water toward the west-northwest near 11 mph (19 kph).
Gustav was forcing shutdowns of many offshore oil operations, causing hikes in global crude prices. Wholesale gasoline prices also were shooting up in the Gulf region, forcing filling stations to raise pump prices ahead of Labor Day weekend.
The Gulf has 4,000 oil rigs and half of
Hundreds of offshore workers have already been pulled out and analysts said the storm could send
Meanwhile, still well out in the
With Hurricane Katrina's third anniversary falling on Friday, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency to lay the groundwork for federal assistance. Texas Gov. Rick Perry issued a disaster declaration, and together they put 8,000 National Guard troops on standby.
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said he would order a mandatory evacuation of the city if forecasters predict a Category-3 strike or possibly even a Category-2 within 72 hours. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff was in the region monitoring developments.
At least 59 people died in
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