Hurricane Felix Barrels Into Nicaragua

September 4, 2007

Hurricane Felix came ashore this morning as a Category 5 storm on the northern coast of Nicaragua near the border with Honduras (see map).

Category 5 is a classification reserved for the most intense storms, with winds of at least 155 miles (250 kilometers) an hour.

Felix slammed into the swampy coastline with winds of 160 miles (257 kilometers) an hour and pushed ashore a potentially devastating storm surge of at least 18 feet (5.5 meters).

Mark Willis, a meteorologist with the National Hurricane Center in Miami, said breaking waves of 20 feet (6 meters) high or more would be riding atop the surge.

"It's just going to be a mess out there," Willis said.

Shortly before landfall, Felix's eye was about 65 miles (104 kilometers) southeast of the Nicaraguan town of Cabo Gracias a Dios and headed toward a region of small coastal villages, Willis said.

This low-lying region is home to thousands of Miskito Indians who depend on canoes to navigate shallow rivers and lakes to reach higher ground, the Associated Press reported.

Felix's landfall came shortly before Colorado State University (CSU) meteorologists issued a prediction on Tuesday morning that the remaining hurricane season would be very active.

CSU researchers Phil Klotzbach and William Gray predicted that ten more named storms could form before the season ends on November 30.

Of those storms, six are expected to become hurricanes with winds of at least 74 miles (119 kilometers) an hour. Three of those storms could intensify into major hurricanes with winds exceeding 110 miles (177 kilometers) an hour, CSU predicts.

Double Whammy

Felix is the second Category 5 hurricane to make landfall during the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season, which started on June 1 and lasts until November 30.

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