Will 2004 storm season beat prediction?

FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- Perhaps Colorado State University hurricane forecaster William Gray and his team are rethinking their downgrading of the forecast for the 2004 hurricane season on Aug. 6, when they predicted just 13 named storms of which seven would become hurricanes with three escalating into intense storms with winds of more than 111 mph. 

After all, with more than two months left in the season, which runs through Nov. 30, weve already seen 10 named storms with six reaching hurricane status and four of them in the intense category -- one Category 3 (Alex), two Category 4s (Charley and Frances) and one Category 5 (Ivan).

Next names on the list are Karl, Lisa and Matthew. And on the horizon is tropical depression 12, which formed Thursday off the coast of Africa, somewhere near the Cape Verde Islands but not affecting any land mass -- yet.

To contact Managing Editor of TravelWeekly.com Kimberly Scholz, send e-mail to [email protected].

MIAMI -- Hurricane Ivan did not go quietly into the night, even after a two-week rampage through the Caribbean that left 70 dead, brought Grenada and Grand Cayman to their knees, sideswiped Jamaica, clipped Cubas West Coast and prompted urgent calls for help.

Ivan slammed into the U.S. Gulf Coast Thursday morning and pummeled Floridas Panhandle with tornadoes and high winds, causing 20 deaths and millions of dollars in damage. Although Ivan finally weakened to a tropical storm category [winds around 60 mph], heavy rains threatened the Carolinas and points north.

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Dept. issued a travel warning for the Cayman Islands, urging U.S. citizens to avoid travel there at this time due to significant damage and widespread flooding. U.S. citizens in the Cayman Islands are urged to depart as soon as safe transportation is available. (Cayman Airways relief flights are bringing anyone out who wants to leave for Miami or Kingston, Jamaica.)

Two deaths in Grand Cayman were blamed on Ivan. The government reported that limited electricity is up in George Town; the airport will be operational by Friday for disaster recovery flights through Sept. 26; and the residents of Cayman Brac set up a hurricane relief registry on the Home Depot Web site at www.homedepot.com. To find the registry, go to the online gift registry section and use Hurricane Relief as the last name.

Tropical storm Jeanne, at one time the sixth hurricane -- and tenth named storm -- of the busy season, lashed Puerto Rico with heavy rains that knocked out power, flooded roads and killed two people before moving across the northeastern tip of the Dominican Republic with high winds and crashing surf. According to the Puerto Rico Tourism Co., hotels and resorts did not suffer any permanent damage.

AMResorts, with 11 properties in the Dominican Republic and Mexico under the Secrets Resorts & Spas, Dream Resorts & Spas and Sunscapes Resorts & Spas brands, said its 346-room Sunscape Punta Cana sustained only minimal damage.

Management was still assessing damage to the 446-room Secrets Excellence Punta Cana property. Although the resort had guests at the time of the storm, they have the option of being transferred to Sunscape Casa del Mar in La Romana or departing the island once flights have resumed. The resort is expected to reopen Sept. 20. Guests whose vacations were interrupted by the storm will receive a free return stay for lost nights.

Jeanne appears headed for the Bahamas -- devastated earlier this month by Hurricane Frances -- and then possibly toward the southeastern U.S., anywhere from Florida to the Carolinas.

To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].

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