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Cold snap will help ward off storms

By wire services
Published October 26, 2005

The recent cold snap will help retard any further storms that try to move into the Gulf of Mexico this season.

The cold air has cooled the water temperatures, which had been above average this year. Tropical storms fuel up on warm water.

Also, a trough of cool air currently extends down to the Florida Peninsula, said Nick Petro, meteorologist with the National Weather Service. That trough, flowing west to east, would probably steer any storms moving north out of the Caribbean away from Florida.

"That trough is temporary," Petro warned. "It could move away, which could, in theory, allow storms to move into the gulf."

Hurricane season ends Nov. 30.

Cape Romano finally "of greater importance'

Uninhabited and accessible only by boat, Cape Romano has never been known for much. Now it's in the hurricane history books.

Part of the 10,000 islands area of southwest Florida, Cape Romano is where Hurricane Wilma made landfall Monday morning, 5 miles south of Marco Island.

Formerly known as Cape Romans, the island "likely derived its name from Bernard Romans, the navigator, surveyor and naturalist who was commissioned in 1769 by the Earl of Hillsborough to map the coasts of British Florida," wrote the late Allen Morris in his book Florida Place Names.

It hasn't always been uninhabited. But the few houses were abandoned and are crumbling. Florida's Last Frontier, a history of Collier County by Charlton W. Tebeau published in 1966, said Cape Romano was being developed and "destined to be of greater importance in the future."

It took four decades to come true.

In Cuba, Wilma soaked hundreds of buildings

The crashing waves that flooded Havana's coast Monday brought another destructive element besides water: salt.

The sea salt will contaminate and corrode hundreds of already precarious buildings, some older than 100 years, experts said.

"The floods will make everything worse. ..." said Florida International University professor Nicolas Quintana, a former city planner in Cuba. "I don't think half the people will be able to go back to their homes."

Hurricane Wilma blew past Cuba on Sunday night. Then, shortly before 2 a.m. Monday, the capital's seawall, the Malecon, began coming apart. The storm surge crashed over the seaside highway, rushing water 3 feet deep and five blocks back. Basement apartments in already crumbling buildings were ruined, and civil defense officers had to don scuba gear to rescue the stranded.

The Cuban government said Wilma damaged 2,000 homes.

Florida's crop damage could exceed $1-billion

WEST PALM BEACH - Hurricane Wilma inflicted damage of more than $1-billion on the state's farms, groves and nurseries, Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson said Tuesday.

Among the casualties: flattened sugar cane, ruined sweet corn, tomato and pepper fields, collapsed nursery greenhouses and 30 percent of Southwest Florida's citrus crop. Bronson's estimate follows 2004's quartet of hurricanes, which caused $2-billion in agriculture losses, and this year's Hurricane Katrina, which inflicted $427-million in farm-related damage.

In Indian River County and northern St. Lucie County, the citrus crop appeared to have come through Wilma better than it fared after last year's hurricanes, said Doug Bournique of the Indian River Citrus League in Vero Beach.

But the state's largest agricultural sector, ornamental horticulture, was hard-hit, said Joe Celiberti, owner of Weston Nursery in Loxahatchee. "We got wiped out. Most of the greenhouses collapsed. We lost 100,000 flowers here," Celiberti said.

[Last modified October 26, 2005, 00:46:05]

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