MIAMI — Hurricane Jeanne appeared to be zeroing in on the Southeast coast Thursday, and forecasts put Florida firmly in the deadly storm’s sights with landfall possible this weekend.
While meteorologists at the National Hurricane Center in Miami said Jeanne and its 100-mph top sustained winds could hit as far north as the Carolinas, storm-battered Florida was a more likely target than it was a day earlier, said Eric Blake, a meteorologist at the hurricane center.
“It’s time for Floridians to seriously pay attention,” Blake said.
At 5 a.m. ET, Jeanne was centered about 475 miles east of Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas. It was moving west near 3 mph, a speed that would bring it near Florida by Sunday. An eventual turn to the northwest was predicted, but it was unclear if that would happen before Jeanne reached Florida.
Bahamas in storm's path
Jeanne could first pass over the northwest and central Bahamas; those areas were under a tropical storm watch. Blake said it seemed less possible that Jeanne would curve back out to sea and avoid land.
Jeanne was blamed for more than 1,070 deaths in Haiti, where it hit over the weekend as a tropical storm and caused severe flooding. It moved out to sea before looping back toward land.
Many Floridians hoped that they were done with hurricanes this year. Hurricanes Charley, Frances and Ivan hit the state over a span of five weeks this summer, causing billions of dollars of damage and more than 60 deaths.
Ivan’s remnants reformed Wednesday into a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico and were forecast to make landfall again by early Friday in either Texas or Louisiana. As a hurricane, Ivan battered the southeast last week, killing at least 57 people before breaking apart. One of the pieces headed back across Florida into the Gulf and became a tropical storm.
At 5 a.m., Ivan had top sustained winds near 40 mph and was about 180 miles southeast of the upper Texas coast, forecasters said. It was moving north-northwest near 15 mph.
Karl, Lisa remain far at sea
Meanwhile, Hurricane Karl stayed on an open-ocean course that only threatened ships, while Tropical Storm Lisa moved slowly far out in the Atlantic.
Karl, the seventh hurricane this season, had top sustained winds near 125 mph, up from about 110 mph a day earlier. It was expected to weaken as it moved over cooler waters. At 5 a.m., Karl was centered about 1,150 miles west-southwest of the Azores and was moving north-northeast near 23 mph.
At the same time, Lisa had top sustained winds near 50 mph. The 12th named storm of the season was centered about 1,180 miles west of the Cape Verde islands and was moving west near 2 mph. Lisa was expected to turn toward the northwest, possibly following Karl’s path in open seas.
The hurricane season ends Nov. 30.
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