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Wilma grows to Cat 5;FL urged to prepare

Hurricane Wilma grew to a monster Category 5 hurricane with 175-mph winds by Wednesday morning.

BY SUSAN KIM | BALTIMORE | October 19, 2005

Hurricane Wilma grew to a monster Category 5 hurricane with 175-mph winds by Wednesday morning.

Wilma was a tropical storm on Tuesday, then strengthened more rapidly than expected. Forecasters noted the storm's minimum pressure was the lowest ever recorded in the Atlantic basin.

Wilma triggered mudslides that killed 10 people in Haiti, and threatened Honduras and Nicaragua with heavy rain.

Forecasters described Wilma as 'extremely dangerous,' and said that Florida was in the storm's projected path. The storm was about 365 miles southeast of Cozumel, Mexico by Wednesday morning.

Emergency management officials from the Florida Keys planned to order visitors to leave on Thursday and to evacuate 80,000 residents on Friday.

The storm could weaken somewhat before landfall but was still likely to hit Florida as a major hurricane of Category 3 or higher. Wilma could affect some of the same coastal areas hit by last year's Hurricane Charley, including Punta Gorda on the state's southwestern coast.

More than 6,800 families in the state are still living in temporary mobile homes and travel trailers provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.


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