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Hurricane Dennis Strengthens


For an update on Dennis, we're joined now by NPR's Jon Hamilton at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Jon, what's the latest on the strength and location of the storm?

JON HAMILTON reporting:

The latest is that it's speeding up. It was moving--it's now moving north at about 18 miles an hour and that means it's probably going to hit the coast sometime in midafternoon, probably by 3 PM or so Eastern time.

Dennis is still a Category 4 storm and its maximum winds have been holding at about 140 miles an hour, maybe a little bit less than that. It actually gained strength last night and early this morning, but since then it's actually lost a little bit of force. And forecasters here say it could be down to about 130 miles an hour by the time it hits land and that would make it just on the border of a Category 3 and a Category 4 storm. And even so, forecasters here at the National Hurricane Center are saying they expect Dennis to remain an extremely dangerous storm until it get well inland.

KAST: And what are they saying about the path they expect Dennis to take?

HAMILTON: It's changed course a little bit this morning. It kind of wobbled, and this morning the wobble took it more on a northward path. Now it's headed more east. So the latest thinking here is that where it's going to hit is a little east of Mobile Bay, Alabama, somewhere in the western Florida Panhandle. If there's any good news with Dennis, it's that it's a fairly compact storm, so it's not going to hit as large an area as some of the storms last year. Even so, they're thinking that it's going to bring very dangerous winds and rain. You're going to have tides that'll be 10 to 15 feet above normal. Could have up to five to 10 inches of rain and there could be tornadoes that hit several states in the wake of the storm.

KAST: NPR's Jon Hamilton at the National Hurricane Center. Thanks, Jon.

HAMILTON: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jon Hamilton is a correspondent for NPR's Science Desk. Currently he focuses on neuroscience and health risks.