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Bloomberg: Hurricane Dean Gathers Strength as It Heads Toward Jamaica

By Kelly Riddell and James Temple

Aug. 18 (Bloomberg) — Hurricane Dean will probably strengthen today as it sweeps the southern edge of the Dominican Republic and heads toward Jamaica.

The Category 4 hurricane’s center was 755 miles (1,210 kilometers) east-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica, and heading west at 18 miles (30 kilometers) per hour, the hurricane center said in a 10 p.m. New York time advisory yesterday. Sustained winds were reaching about 145 mph.

Hurricane conditions could reach southern parts of Haiti and the Dominican Republic today, the center said. The storm is likely to descend on Jamaica tomorrow.

“Jamaica is the next land mass that is looking at a strong likelihood of a direct hit,” said Dennis Feltgen, meteorologist and spokesman for the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

The island nation’s Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management is advising people along the coastline or in low-lying areas to complete evacuation plans and stock emergency supplies.

Feltgen said the storm is likely to reach the Gulf of Mexico on Aug. 21. There it could reach Category 5, the highest level for tropical systems with winds greater than 155 mph.

“There’s still plenty of deep, warm water and light wind shear,” Feltgen said.

Private forecaster AccuWeather Inc. said in a statement released yesterday that if the storm remains on its current track, it could make “landfall just north of Brownsville, Texas, and may bring significant rain to areas that have just received precipitation from Erin.”

Texas Threat

Texas Governor Rick Perry yesterday declared the hurricane an imminent threat to the state. He activated state resources, including 250 Texas Military Forces command personnel to support the potential deployment of up to 10,000 soldiers and 250 Texas Parks and Wildlife Department crews with boats. The Texas Department of Transportation began displaying advisories to residents to keep their gas tanks full.

Mexico’s interior ministry said it is ready to provide funds to the southeastern state of Quintana Roo because of the “high probability” Hurricane Dean will hit its coastline.

State authorities requested the funds for food, clothing and medical attention that the population of eight municipalities may need, the ministry said today in an e-mailed statement.

The Gulf of Mexico accounts for about 27 percent of U.S. oil production and 15 percent of gas output, according to U.S. Energy Department figures.

“The combination of Dean’s projected explosive development expected late this weekend, along with some tracking models starting to indicate a northward shift, concern me,” Jim Rouiller, senior energy meteorologist for Planalytics Inc., said in a note yesterday. “I believe the western half of the Gulf energy production area is now threatened.”

Transocean Inc., the world’s largest offshore driller, said it will evacuate its most westerly rig in the Gulf of Mexico as a precaution for Hurricane Dean.

All 92 workers aboard the semi-submersible Transocean Amirante rig, moored 151 miles southwest of Kaplan, Louisiana, will be evacuated, company spokesman Guy Cantwell said yesterday. The Houston-based company already pulled 75 workers who aren’t essential to drilling operations from the Amirante and three other rigs.

Workers Evacuated

Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s biggest oil company, shut two oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico and evacuated personnel from platforms, which may be in the track of Hurricane Dean, the company said in a statement. The 188 people it evacuated from a natural gas field 75 miles southeast of Corpus Christi, Texas, because of Tropical Storm Erin will remain onshore until Dean’s path is determined, the company said.

Shell, which has about 1,400 workers offshore, has shuttered output of 5 million cubic feet a day from the North Padre Island 975 field. The two sub-sea wells it shut, which are linked to the Brutus platform, pumped 2,000 barrels of crude and 2 million cubic feet of gas a day.

There were at least three deaths linked to the storm on Friday, two on Dominica and one on Martinique, the Associated Press reported.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kelly Riddell in Washington at [email protected] James Temple in San Francisco at [email protected]

Last Updated: August 18, 2007 01:10 EDT and its sister non-profit websites,,,,,, and are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

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