But Ike is expected to regain that strength—and then some—by early Monday morning. At that time the storm is expected to be over the central Bahamas with winds exceeding 132 miles (212 kilometers) an hour, making it a Category 4 hurricane.
Although Miami could be in Hurricane Ike's path by Tuesday morning, Feltgen noted that five-day forecasts for hurricane tracks can be off by as much as 300 miles (480 kilometers). Ike could just as easily curve south into the Gulf of Mexico or turn north and miss Florida altogether (regional map).
"By Monday or Tuesday of next week we'll have a much better idea of where it is going," he said.
Out of Africa
Ike is one of the so-called Cape Verde hurricanes, which tend to form at or around the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season, September 10. Rolling off the west coast of Africa near the Cape Verde Islands, these storms begin their journeys across the Atlantic Ocean as "tropical waves"—clusters of windy thunderstorms.
Some of the worst hurricanes in history have been Cape Verde storms, including Hurricane Ivan, which began as a tropical depression near the Cape Verde Islands on September 2, 2004.
Ivan struck the Cayman Islands as a Category 5 hurricane—the most powerful kind—with winds of around 160 miles (257 kilometers) an hour, and later pummeled Pensacola, Florida.
Meanwhile, tropical storm Josephine—another Cape Verde storm—is far out in the Atlantic Ocean and moving west-northwest.
Josephine is not expected to be a threat to land anytime soon, if at all. But another tropical wave is about to roll off the coast of Africa and start its journey across the Atlantic, perhaps helping to fulfill forecasters' predictions this week of a hurricane-packed September.
Willie Drye is author of Storm of the Century: the Labor Day hurricane of 1935, published by National Geographic Books.
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