For the 11 a.m. update, click here.
Hurricane Dean, a monster Category 4 storm, was rapidly approaching Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, with landfall expected Monday night, according to the latest report from the National Hurricane Center.
The "extremely dangerous" storm, the first hurricane in what meteorologists expect to be an unusually active storm season, already blamed for several deaths as it blew through the Caribbean over the last several days, was moving south of the Cayman Islands early Monday morning. NOAA
Scientists are conflicted about the role global warming has played in hurricane strength and frequency, with some saying that increased sea temperature has added enough energy to hurricanes to make them more ferocious. Hurricane warnings and watchings are in effect for Belize and the Yucatan Peninsula, including the resort city of Cancun. Texas declared a preemptive emergency, despite indications the storm would not strike the United States.
At 5 a.m. (EDT) the storm was about 495 miles east of Belize City and headed west at 21 mph. Maximum sustained winds are near 150 mph, with higher gusts. Hurricane-force winds are blowing 60 miles from its center, and tropical storm-force winds 205 miles away from its center. National Hurricane Center
Coastal storm surge flooding of five to 11 feet above normal is possible, along with "large and dangerous battering waves," the National Hurricane Center warned. Maximum rainfall in any one area is predicted to be about 20 inches -- enough to cause "life-threatening flash floods and mud slides."
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