Yesterday, Wilma was a tropical storm with winds at 70 MPH. Today, she is a monster with 175 MPH sustained winds and an expected landfall in Florida over the weekend.
“This will make this the most intense hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic basin, stronger than Gilbert” in 1988, National Hurricane Center said forecaster Jennifer Pralgo to CBS Radio.”We do expect Wilma to make landfall somewhere in the Florida peninsula, possibly on Saturday into Sunday, as a Category 3 hurricane,”
The last official name set aside for this hurricane season, Wilma may be the fiercest one to hit Florida. Jamaica, Cuba, Nicaragua and Honduras were getting heavy rain from the storm, though it wasn’t likely to make landfall in any of those countries. Forecasts showed it would likely turn toward the narrow Yucatan Channel between Cuba and Mexico’s Cancun region then move into the storm-weary Gulf.
The law of unintended consequences is at work though. With the horror of Katrina fresh in peoples minds, the residents of Florida are preparing early for the storm, and taking no chances.
“People have learned their lesson and know better how to prepare. We’re not waiting until the last minute anymore,” said Andrea Yerger, 48, of Port Charlotte, Florida. She was buying material to protect her house, which had to be gutted because of extensive damage from Hurricane Charley last year.
This season has been especially busy with hurricanes, and started very early.
The storm is the record-tying 12th hurricane of the season, the same number reached in 1969. That is the most for one season since record-keeping began in 1851.
On Monday, Wilma became the Atlantic hurricane season’s 21st named storm, tying the record set in 1933 and exhausting the list of names for this year.
The six-month hurricane season does not end until Nov. 30. Any new storms would be named with letters from the Greek alphabet, starting with Alpha.
So as another Hurricane roars through the gulf, say a prayer that it does not strengthen any more and the people of Florida will be okay.