Hurricane Dean approaching landfall in the Lesser Antilles

The first hurricane of the Atlantic season, Hurricane Dean, is on a path for landfall between Dominica and St. Lucia at some point on Friday. The storm, a Category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph, is forecast to strengthen before passing Jamaica on its way toward the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico over the weekend.

As of the latest report by the National Hurricane Center in Miami, the center of Hurricane Dean is located about 200 miles east of Barbados and 300 miles east of Martinique.

According to the NHC, the current track will take the center of Dean near the Lesser Antilles early Friday.

The storm is expected to dump two to five inches of rain, with locally heavier amounts. The rainfall could lead to flash flooding and mudslides. In addition, storm surge is expected two to four feet above normal levels with large and dangerous waves battering the coast.

According to the NHC, Dean could strengthen to "an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane by the time it reaches the northwestern Caribbean Sea (near Jamaica and the Cayman Islands)" and then continuing on to the Yucatan Peninsula.

A Category 4 storm has sustained winds of 131 to 155 mph and has the potential to cause extreme damage. Notable storms with Category 4 status include hurricanes Felix, Luis and Opal (all in 1995) Hurricane Dennis (in 2005).

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Erin was downgraded to a tropical depression as it came ashore in Texas about 25 miles northeast of Corpus Christi. All watches and warnings have been lifted along the Texas coast.

The storm is forecast to bring three to six inches of rain over areas of southern and central Texas, an area that had been soaked with record rainfall during late June and July. Most of the state already is above normal yearly rainfall totals.

To contact the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to Kimberly Scholz at [email protected].

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