As Hurricane Dean moved over the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, the beaches, homes and resorts absorbed the energy in the Category 5 monster, and the storm has been downgraded to a Category 3 storm, according to the latest report from the National Hurricane Center, about 7:50 a.m. ET.
Hurricane Dean had grown in intensity over night -- 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 near Chetumal, Mexico. At that time, hurricane-force winds extended 60 miles from the center, and tropical storm-force winds some 175 miles from the center.
By 7:50 a.m., winds had dropped, but sustained winds were still measured at 125 mph. 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 is the second largest supplier of oil to the United States. 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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