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Marco loses steam; downgraded to tropical storm

Marco November 21, 1996
Web posted at: 3:30 a.m. EST

MIAMI (CNN) -- Hurricane Marco is no more.

The National Weather Service downgraded Marco to a tropical storm on Wednesday. Jamaica replaced its hurricane warning with a tropical storm warning, while Haiti and Cuba downgraded hurricane watches.

By early Thursday, Marco's winds had dropped to about 50 mph (85 kph) as it continued to drift north-northeast at about 6 mph. At 1 a.m., the storm's center was about 180 miles (295km) south of Kingston, Jamaica.

The 13th named Atlantic storm of the season had been upgraded to hurricane status early Wednesday as it churned through the Caribbean Sea with winds at a steady 75 mph (120 kph).

Jamaica has already suffered nearly $3 million in damage from heavy rains.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said rains unrelated to Marco were likely to continue in portions of Central America, producing more flooding and mudslides. The flooding has already killed six people in Honduras and one in Nicaragua and forced the evacuation of thousands in Honduras and Cuba.

The hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30 in the Atlantic, making Marco a relative latecomer. Hurricane specialist Ed Rappaport said hurricanes occur in November on average about once every two years, and such late storms are generally more erratic because of strong frontal systems to the north.

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