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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Hurricane IKE Promises More

As electric companies in Louisiana slowly restore power after Hurricane Gustav drenched the Gulf Coast, the energy market on Thursday watched Tropical Storm Ike rapidly mushroom into a Category 4 hurricane as it churned across the Atlantic Ocean toward the Bahamas.

Ike quickly intensified from a tropical storm Wednesday morning into a dangerous Category 4 hurricane with winds of 145 miles per hour by Thursday morning.

It was located about 550 miles northeast of the Leeward Islands, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in its 5 a.m. EDT report Thursday. The Leeward Islands include the Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Saint Martin, Barbuda, Antigua, Montserrat and Guadeloupe.

The weather models forecast Ike would reach the Bahamas early next week.

The NHC expects Ike to weaken slightly to a Category 3 hurricane with winds of 111 to 130 mph in about 36 hours but return to Category 4 strength with winds of 131 to 155 mph in about 72 hours.

It was too soon to say whether Ike would reach the Gulf Coast or make landfall anywhere in the United States.

Energy traders watch for storms that could enter the Gulf of Mexico and threaten U.S. oil and gas production facilities as well as refineries along the coast.

Commodities traders likewise watch storms that could hit agriculture crops like citrus and cotton in Florida and other states along the Gulf Coast to Texas.

Since coming ashore in Louisiana as a Category 2 hurricane Monday morning, the remnants of Gustav were moving into Missouri and Illinois Thursday morning after leaving more than 1.8 million homes and businesses without power in the lower Mississippi Valley.


Tropical Storm Hanna, meanwhile, was passing the Bahamas as it moved north toward the Carolinas and the rest of the U.S. East Coast over the weekend.

The NHC forecast Hanna would strengthen back into a Category 1 hurricane with winds of 74 to 95 mph in about 36 hours before reaching the Carolina coast.

Elsewhere in the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Josephine strengthened a little Thursday morning as it moved toward the Central Atlantic. Josephine was located about 465 miles west of the southernmost Cape Verde Islands.

The NHC expects Josephine to remain a tropical storm over the next five days. It is too soon for the weather models to indicate whether Josephine would reach North America.


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