The outer fringes of Hurricane Dean's spiraling wind and rains began lashing the southern shores of Dominican Republic and Haiti, and the Category 4 monster storm was continuing to track in the direction of Jamaica. It is expected to hit the island Sunday.
The usually staid and robotic forecasts issued by the National Hurricane Center included this warning: "DEAN IS AN EXTREMELY DANGEROUS CATEGORY FOUR HURRICANE." The hurricane had already been blamed for at least three deaths, and possibly as many as six or more, according to press accounts.
A warning is also in effect in Cuba, and the storm is also expected to batter Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula in the coming days -- and forecasters say it could grow to Category 5 strength -- the highest category. Already, hurricane-force winds extend 70 miles from the center of the storm, and tropical storm-force winds extend more than 200 miles from its center.
Maximum sustained winds are at 150 mph, with stronger gusts. Rain and wind could produce "life-threatening" floods and mudslides, the National Hurricane Center warned, along with "large and dangerous battering waves."
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