Hurricane Felix strengthened into a dangerous Category 5 storm yesterday as it churned its way into the open waters of the Caribbean Sea after toppling trees and flooding some homes on a cluster of Dutch islands. The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Felix was packing maximum sustained winds of 165 mph as it plowed westward toward Central America, where it was expected to skirt Honduras’ coastline tomorrow before slamming into Belize on Wednesday as a hurricane capable of massive destruction.
On Sunday, Felix lashed Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire with rains and winds, causing scattered power outages and forcing thousands of tourists to take refuge in hotels. But residents expressed relief it did far less damage than feared as the storm’s outer bands grazed the tiny islands.
“Thankfully we didn’t get a very bad storm. My dog slept peacefully through the night,” said Bonaire medical administrator Siomara Albertus, who waited out the storm in her home with her Labrador Retriever.
The storm forced tens of thousands of tourists and residents on the three islands to remain in their homes and hotels, stocked with water, flashlights and emergency provisions.
In Curacao, about a dozen homes in a low-lying area were flooded. In Aruba, there was little visible damage, although at least one catamaran snapped off its mooring and a house was damaged by a downed tree. A northern settlement had a temporary power outage.
Many Bonaire residents had prepared for the worst, installing storm shutters and hauling their boats ashore, but the storm’s winds left little damage.
Felix became the second Atlantic hurricane of the season on Saturday evening, following Hurricane Dean, which left at least 20 dead in the Caribbean and carved out a destructive swath that stretched from St. Lucia to Mexico.
WILLEMSTAD, Curacao: Hurricane Felix has become the second extremely dangerous category 5 storm of the season as it swept through the southern Caribbean on a path towards Central America and Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, US forecasters said.
On a similar – although more southerly – track as last month’s Hurricane Dean, which killed 27 people, Felix’s top sustained winds had increased to 270kmh yesterday, the US National Hurricane Centre in Miami said.
Forecasters at the centre said Felix was strengthening at one of the fastest rates seen.
Dawn broke on Curacao to reveal toppled trees and flooded streets but neither the Netherlands Antilles territory nor its sister island of Bonaire reported serious damage or casualties.
Meanwhile, Jamaica was under a tropical storm watch as it prepared to hold elections, already postponed from one week ago by Hurricane Dean.
Belize prepares for Felix…Beach woes in Jersey…Power outages in California
ORANJESTAD, Aruba People in Belize are stocking up on supplies and boarding windows as Hurricane Felix churns toward them. The Category-5 hurricane with winds up to 165 miles per hour is over the Caribbean after knocking down trees and flooding homes on Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire.
Hurricane Felix has barrelled through the Caribbean with forecasters predicting a brush with Aruba and warning of its potential to strengthen.
Forecasters issued a tropical storm warning and hurricane watch for the islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, popular tourist destinations in the Netherlands Antilles.
A tropical storm watch also has been issued for Jamaica, which is gearing up for violence-marred elections later today after Felix was upgraded overnight to Category Two strength on the Saffir-Sampson scale, which peaks at five.