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Hurricane Felix heading for Caribbean island of Aruba

Forecasters say it may hit Belize and Yucatan peninsula this week.

September 02, 2007|From the Associated Press

ST. GEORGE'S, GRENADA — Hurricane Felix gathered strength early today after pounding Grenada with rain and wind, pulling small boats loose from moorings and toppling utility poles on its route toward the Caribbean island of Aruba.

Felix was upgraded from a tropical storm to a Category 1 hurricane Saturday evening and had sustained maximum winds of at least 80 mph early today. It was expected to strengthen more as its outer bands started hitting the islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao.

Tropical Storm Henriette, meanwhile, was moving out to sea after dumping rain on Mexico's Pacific coastline.

In Acapulco, the storm loosened a boulder that smashed into a home, killing three people. A teenager and her two brothers were killed in another house when it was hit by a landslide.

Felix swept over Grenada on Saturday, knocking radio and TV stations out of service and toppling utility lines. No injuries were immediately reported, but the storm ripped roofs off at least two homes and a popular concert venue was destroyed. Orchards were left in ruin.

Felix became the sixth named storm of the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season early Saturday, spawning thunderstorms and downing trees in Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and the twin-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago.

Forecasters said the storm was steadily growing in size.

In Aruba, tourists crowded the airport to catch flights out before the storm arrived.

"This kind of weather doesn't usually make it to Aruba, so people are definitely worried," said store cashier Mark Werleman.

A hurricane watch was issued for Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, and a tropical storm watch was issued in Jamaica, to the northwest. The storm was predicted to skirt Jamaica and the Honduras coast and possibly make landfall in Belize by Wednesday, before crossing Mexico's Yucatan peninsula.

On Mexico's Pacific coast, tropical storm warnings were canceled as Henriette moved out to sea.

With maximum sustained winds of 70 mph, Henriette was expected to become a hurricane by today. Forecasters put it on a path that would not threaten land until Thursday, when it could hit a remote section of the Baja California peninsula.

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