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US

Hurricane Floyd picks up steam as it moves toward U.S.

home preparations
Even though Hurricane Floyd poses no immediate threat to the U.S. coast, forecasters recommend that people along the U.S. southeast coast make preparations
 ALSO:
Subscribe to our U.S. Storm Watch
FLOYD INFORMATION:
5 p.m. EDT Saturday

POSITION:
22.7 N, 63.5 W -- 335 miles (540 km) north-northeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico
MOVEMENT:
Toward the west-northwest near 12 mph (19 km/h)
WIND SPEED:
110 mph (175 km/h) maximum sustained winds
 

In this story:

'From Florida to Carolinas ... pay attention'

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



MIAMI (CNN) -- Hurricane Floyd, strengthening as it moves over warm waters in the Atlantic Ocean, will soon become a major storm that could threaten the Bahamas and the United States within days, forecasters said.

"There's a growing risk. It's a strong Category Two now, and it will be a major hurricane at some point," Todd Kimberlain, a meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, told CNN.

The center of Floyd was located about 335 miles (540 km) north-northeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico, at 5 p.m. EDT on Saturday. It was moving west-northwest at 12 mph (19 km/h), with maximum sustained winds of 110 mph (175 km/h) and higher gusts.

Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 105 miles (165 km), and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 km). No storm watches or warnings are currently posted.

'From Florida to Carolinas ... pay attention'

"The waters ahead are very warm," Kimberlain said. "People from Florida to the Carolinas should really pay attention to this." He said the storm could strike the Bahamas or the mainland in four or five days.

A low pressure ridge over the northeastern United States will play a key role in determining the storm's path.

"If the ridge takes too long, it could allow [the hurricane] time to move in. If it moves more timely, then it could turn [the hurricane] to the northwest, possibly even the north," said Kimberlain.

Satellite image
Satellite image taken at 9:06p.m. EDT  

The storm is expected to turn west-northwest Saturday, "then the chance is it could bend to the west," he said.

The water temperatures in Floyd's projected track are nearly 84 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Celsius) and "they extend to a greater depth, giving the storm a reservoir of heat energy there to feed off of," he said.

Hurricane Andrew in 1992 "intensified very rapidly over the same water conditions," Kimberlain said. "But these conditions are the same in many hurricane seasons; it just depends if a hurricane goes over them and feeds off it."

Miami Bureau Chief John Zarrella contributed to this report.


RELATED STORIES:
Hurricane Floyd gaining strength
September 11, 1999
Floyd upgraded to hurricane; could threaten northeastern Caribbean
September 10, 1999
New tools help forecast tropical storms
September 7, 1999
Dennis gets downgraded to tropical depression
September 5, 1999
Dennis-spawned twisters hit Virginia; storm makes landfall
September 4, 1999
Satellite returns from second trip around the moon
June 16, 1999

RELATED SITES:
National Hurricane Center
Joint Typhoon Warning Center
The Hurricane Hunters
The Met.Office-United Kingdom
National Weather Service
Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies
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