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Hurricane Ivan passes battered Cuba

Island nation in for several more hours of wind, rain

Ivan hits Cuba in a computer-enhanced satellite image taken at 4:15 p.m.
more videoVIDEO
Cubans evacuate as Ivan approaches.

The Jamaican government is surveying the damage from Ivan.

Floridians preparing for the worst.
As of 11 p.m. Monday ET

  • Position of center: 40 miles west-northwest of the western tip of Cuba
  • Latitude: 22.0 north
  • Longitude: 85.4 west
  • Top sustained winds: Near 160 mph

    Source: National Hurricane Center
    U.S. landfalls:
    - Unnamed storm, 1935, Florida
    - Camille, 1969, Mississippi
    - Andrew, 1992, Florida
    Source: NOAA
    Caribbean Area
    Hurricane Ivan

    MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- Hurricane Ivan, packing maximum sustained winds near 160 mph (260 kph), began moving away from western Cuba late Monday, toppling power lines, uprooting trees and causing extensive flooding.

    Forecasters warned residents of the U.S. mainland between Florida's Panhandle and west of New Orleans, Louisiana, to brace themselves for a possible midweek landfall.

    Florida Gov. Jeb Bush told residents of the hurricane-weary state to take the necessary precautions, prepare for the impact and listen to authorities as evacuation orders go into effect.

    Mandatory evacuations for the Panhandle were expected to begin Tuesday.

    "This is not the time to be defiant or to kind of let people know that you're a macho man. There are other ways to do that in life," Bush said at a news conference.

    "This is a Category 5 storm. Trust me, it is a powerful, powerful force of nature that you shouldn't be messing with."

    Since 1900, only three Category 5 hurricanes have hit the United States, most recently Hurricane Andrew, which pounded the South Florida coast in 1992, killing 23 people and causing about $26 billion in damages.

    The National Hurricane Center in Miami projected that Ivan will drop to a Category 3 or 4 by the time it makes landfall late Wednesday or early Thursday, possibly near Fort Walton Beach and Destin, Florida. (Preparing for the worst)

    But forecasters cautioned the storm could track slightly to the west, making landfall closer to Mobile, Alabama, or New Orleans.

    A hurricane watch was issued late Monday for the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico from Morgan City, Louisiana, east to St. Marks, Florida, the center said. That includes the greater New Orleans area.

    No matter where landfall occurs, a wide swath of the Gulf Coast will be affected because of the storm's size, officials said.

    Hurricane-force winds extend as far as 100 miles (160 kilometers) from the eye, and winds of tropical storm strength stretch 200 miles (325 kilometers).

    Oil companies have evacuated offshore oil rigs, stopping production of nearly 100,000 barrels of oil per day.

    The Navy moved 300 aircraft from the storm's path at Pensacola Naval Air Station and Whiting Field in the Florida Panhandle. The region also is home to Eglin Air Force Base.

    As of 11 p.m., Ivan's eye was 40 miles (60 kilometers) west-northwest of the western tip of Cuba, according to the hurricane center.

    The storm was moving northwest at near 9 mph (15 kph) and heading into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico.

    A hurricane warning was in effect for Cuba from Pinar del Rio to Ciego de Avila, including the Isle of Youth. A hurricane warning was also in effect for the northeastern Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico from Tulum to Progreso, including the resort town of Cozumel.

    Torrential rain flooded many roads in tobacco-rich Pinar del Rio province as the storm lashed the area. High winds uprooted trees and downed power lines.

    At least 1.5 million Cubans were evacuated to higher ground ahead of the storm, and early Monday, Cuban President Fidel Castro toured parts of western Cuba, which was ravaged by Hurricane Charley a month ago.

    Castro reiterated that his island nation would not accept any money from the United States or other countries that "have imposed economic sanctions against Cuba."

    "The United States can save itself the hypocrisy of trying to help Cuba out in this situation," he said.

    Forecasters said Cuba would continue to get whipped by hurricane-force winds until about 5 a.m. Tuesday.

    The storm is expected to dump as much as 8 to 12 inches of rain in its wake and bring storm surge flooding of 20 to 25 feet.

    "They're in for a rough 12 hours," said Hector Guerrero, a meteorologist with the hurricane center. "It's hard to imagine what that 20 to 25 feet of storm surge will look like."

    A tropical storm watch remained in effect for the Florida Keys from Seven-Mile Bridge west to the Dry Tortugas, the hurricane center said.

    Sand Key in the lower Florida Keys reported sustained winds of 41 mph (66 kph) when one of Ivan's rain bands passed overhead, the hurricane center said.

    Florida Keys emergency management officials discontinued all evacuation orders associated with Hurricane Ivan early Monday and said residents who left the Keys could return immediately.

    Tourism officials said visitors should hold off on returning to the Keys until Thursday.

    The storm has already killed at least 62 people as it barreled across Jamaica, Grenada and other islands.

    Grenada was the hardest hit, reporting 37 people killed by the storm. Venezuela and the Dominican Republic each reported four deaths blamed on the storm.

    In Jamaica, authorities raised the death toll from the storm to 17 late Sunday, including eight people believed to have been swept away by a tidal surge in a town on the island's south coast when the storm hit.

    Power outages were reported on Grand Cayman, which the storm's eye missed by about 30 miles Sunday, and flooding was so bad that people had to stand on their roofs, according to ham radio operators, the center said. (Full story)

    CNN's Karl Penhaul in Kingston and Lucia Newman in Pinar del Rio contributed to this report.

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