Hurricane could hit FL

Southwest Florida could face a major hurricane by the weekend, forecasters said.

BY SUSAN KIM | BALTIMORE | October 18, 2005

Hurricane Wilma could strengthen into a major hurricane of Category 3 or higher, then turn toward southwest Florida by the weekend, forecasters said.

Wilma is forecast to become a Category 3 hurricane with winds exceeding 111 mph by Thursday. Its eventual U.S. landfall was still uncertain but several major storm tracks predictions agreed that southwest Florida was likely to be in its path.

By Tuesday morning, Wilma was a Category 1 hurricane with 75-mph winds. The storm was nearly stationary but was expected to turn gradually west and northwest.

Forecasters said Wilma could be close to western Cuba by Friday. The Cayman Islands posted a hurricane watch on Tuesday.

Although residents of Mississippi and Louisiana were urged to closely monitor the storm, the latest storm tracks indicated the threat was decreasing for those hurricane-battered states.

Wilma is the 12th hurricane of the 2005 Atlantic season. This season has tied the 1933 record for the most named storms in an Atlantic hurricane season, and has also tied the record for the most hurricanes in an Atlantic season.

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