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Felix makes landfall in Nicaragua

'Potentially catastrophic' Category 5 storm has winds of 160 mph..

BY P.J. HELLER | MIAMI | September 4, 2007

An "extremely dangerous" Hurricane Felix made landfall Tuesday in northwestern Nicaragua, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The storm is lashing Nicaragua and Honduras with winds that had increased to 160 mph. A storm surge of 18 feet is predicted, as are rainfalls totaling to 5 to 10 inches. Isolated amounts of 20 inches are expected in the mountainous areas, prompting officials to warn of mudslides and flash floods.

Felix had weakened slightly Monday, with winds dropping to 135 mph, but then picked up strength as it closed in on Central America as a Category 4 storm.

As of 8 a.m. EDT, Felix was over Punta Gorda, Nicaragua. The storm is moving to the west at 16 mph and is expected to speed up and weaken over land.

A hurricane warning was posted for Nicaragua from Puerto Cabezas northward to the Honduras-Nicaragua border. A warning was also in effect in Honduras, from Limon east to the Honduras-Nicaragua border.

A hurricane watch remained in effect for Belize, the Caribbean coast of Guatemala and for Honduras west of Limon.

Tropical storm warnings were in place for Isla de Providencia as well as in Nicaragua from south of Puerto Cabezas to Prinzapolka and in Honduras from west of Limon to the Honduras-Guatemala border.

Felix rekindled memories of Hurricane Mitch which hit Nicaragua and Honduras in 1998. It was one of the deadliest storms in the Atlantic, leaving at least 11,000 people dead and causing more than $5 billion in damage.

Felix was the sixth named storm and the second hurricane of the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season. The season began June 1 and ends Nov. 30.

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