Felix strengthens into a hurricane

The storm passes over Grenada and spins toward Aruba, perhaps on its way to Belize.

Associated Press
Published September 2, 2007

ST. GEORGE'S, Grenada - Hurricane Felix gathered strength Saturday and pounded Grenada with heavy rains and winds, snapping small boats loose from their moorings and toppling utility poles on its route toward the Caribbean island of Aruba. No injuries were immediately reported in Grenada.

The storm was upgraded from a tropical storm to a Category 1 hurricane Saturday evening, with sustained maximum winds near 75 mph. It was expected to strengthen even further as its outer bands started hitting the islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao late Saturday or early today. All three islands were under a hurricane watch.

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 also killed when a landslide slammed into their house in a poor neighborhood of the glitzy resort.

With maximum sustained winds of 65 mph, Henriette was expected to become a hurricane by today, but forecasters put it on a path that did not threaten land until Thursday, when it could hit a remote section of the Baja California peninsula.

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. The Caribbean islands reported only minor damage.

At 11 p.m. EDT, Felix was centered about 100 miles east-northeast of Bonaire and 210 miles east of Aruba and was moving westward about 18 mph, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Forecasters said satellite loops show the storm is steadily expanding in size.

In Aruba, residents stocked up on groceries, flashlights and window reinforcements. 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 Mark Werleman, a cashier at Wema Home and Hardware Center in Aruba's capital.

A tropical storm watch was issued for Jamaica. The storm was predicted to skirt Jamaica and Honduras and possibly make landfall Wednesday in Belize before crossing over Mexico's Yucatan peninsula.