Friday, September 09, 2005

Ophelia coming back

Ophelia is now a hurricane again and is headed back toward the Eastern U.S.:

(CNN) -- Ophelia regained hurricane strength Friday evening, and the latest long-range forecast from the National Hurricane Center shows the storm making landfall either late Monday or early Tuesday along the South Carolina coast.

However, due to the the often erratic nature of hurricane movement, residents along the Atlantic coast from northern Florida to North Carolina were advised to closely monitor the storm because of the possibility it could strike their areas.

At 5 p.m. the center of the Ophelia was 175 miles east-northeast of Daytona Beach, Florida, and 220 miles south-southeast of Charleston, South Carolina. The storm, with sustained winds of 75 mph, was moving northeast at about 7 mph, making it a minimal Category 1 hurricane.

Forecasters said Ophelia was not expected to strengthen over the next 24 hours. However, it was projected to turn west on Sunday, which would take the storm toward land instead of out to sea.

Tropical storm warnings and watches for northeast Florida were discontinued earlier in the day, and forecasters have not yet posted any warnings for stretches of coastline farther north. Tropical storm force winds from the storm extended only 70 miles from the center, not far enough to reach land.

If Ophelia hits the United States at hurricane strength, it would be the third hurricane to strike U.S. soil this year, with three months yet to go in the busy 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. Dennis landed near the Florida-Alabama border in early July; Katrina brought devastation and misery to Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida with two landfalls in August.