Hurricane Dean grew in intensity -- as predicted -- and struck the Yucatan Peninsula as a Category 5 storm with 165 mph sustained winds at about 4:40 a.m. ET. It's center struck the Costa Maya and Majahual area. Hurricane-force winds extend 60 miles from the center, and tropical storm-force winds some 175 miles from the center. Guatemala and Honduras may also be battered by heavy rains.
The hurricane is expected to affect Belize and Mexican territory as it crosses the peninsula and the Gulf of Mexico then hammer Mexico again. It hit at maximum intensity, but is losing strength as it crosses land. It still could retain Category 2 strength by the time -- probably tonight -- it hits water again, where oil drilling rigs are located. According to CNN, workers are now abandoning those rigs.
Mexico supplies about 20% of United States oil. According to The Storm Pundit, Hurricane Dean is one of the 10 most intense hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic, and -- together with other intense hurricanes recorded in this and other recent storm seasons -- could bolster arguments that hurricanes are getting stronger as the climate warms. For more on that, click here.
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