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Saturday, September 04, 2004

The New York Times > National > The Overview: Slow but Fierce, Vast Hurricane Batters Florida

The New York Times > National > The Overview: Slow but Fierce, Vast Hurricane Batters Florida: "September 5, 2004
THE OVERVIEW
Slow but Fierce, Vast Hurricane Batters Florida
By ABBY GOODNOUGH

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla., Sept. 4 - Shrieking winds and angry sheets of rain thrashed Florida's coastline on Saturday as residents hunkered down in crowded shelters or in their own barricaded homes to ride out the plodding, sprawling Hurricane Frances. The storm appeared to be strengthening as it hulked toward the warm waters off the seaboard, increasing the threat of serious flooding and wind damage.
Hurricane-force winds were reported by midday Saturday. Forecasters were predicting that the eye of the storm would pass over Stuart, 40 miles north of Palm Beach, Sunday after midnight, later than expected because the hurricane stalled over the Bahamas for more than 24 hours and was moving at only 6 miles per hour.
The timing was ominous, forecasters said, because the peak of the storm would coincide with high tide, making storm surges of up to 10 feet and severe flooding likely at and north of landfall.
Though a ridge of high pressure had weakened Hurricane Frances into a Category 2 storm, with sustained winds of 105 m.p.h., it remained huge - twice the size of Hurricane Andrew, which devastated the Homestead area, about 30 miles south of Miami, in 1992 - and extremely dangerous, officials said.
Winds could increase to at least 110 m.p.h. as the storm moves closer to the coastline and onto land, they added.
'People need to be very cautious and very patient,' Gov. Jeb Bush said in a morning news briefing in Tallahassee. 'We know that this storm, in spite of fact that it has weakened in terms "

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