- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 5, 2007

CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico (AP) — Felix walloped Central America’s remote Miskito coastline, and Henriette slammed into resorts on the tip of Baja California as a record-setting hurricane season got even wilder yesterday, with twin storms making landfall on the same day.

While weakening rapidly, Felix’s rains posed a danger to inland villages lying in flood-prone mountain valleys and to urban shantytowns susceptible to mudslides.

Felix roared ashore before dawn as a Category 5 storm along Nicaragua’s remote northeast corner — an isolated, swampy jungle where people get around mainly by canoe.

The 160 mph winds peeled roofs off shelters and a police station, knocked down electric poles and stripped humble homes to a few walls.

“The metal roofs are coming off like straight razors and flying against the trees and homes,” Lumberto Campbell, a local official in Puerto Cabezas, near Felix’s landfall, told Radio Ya shortly before his phone line went dead.



By late afternoon, Felix had weakened to a Category 1 storm with winds of 80 mph. But forecasters were worried that the tempest would do great damage inland over Honduras and Guatemala. Up to 25 inches of rain were expected to drench the mountain capitals of Tegucigalpa and Guatemala City, where shantytowns cling precariously to hillsides.

In 1998, Hurricane Mitch parked over the same region for days, causing deadly flooding and mudslides that killed nearly 11,000 people and left more than 8,000 missing.

“The major concern now shifts to the threat of torrential rains over the mountains of Central America,” said senior hurricane specialist Richard Pasch at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

In the Pacific, Henriette’s top winds increased to 85 mph, and it made landfall just after 2 p.m. on the southern tip of Baja, a resort area popular with Hollywood stars and sport fishermen.

Few tourists or residents had expected much trouble, but they awoke yesterday to dangerous winds, closed airports and forecasts of a direct hit.

“I’ve been hearing it from the wife, coming to Cabo during the hurricane season,” said Derek Dunlap, a 45-year-old engineer from San Francisco. “I was going to roll the dice, and well, here we go.”

Felix was the 31st Category 5 hurricane seen in the Atlantic since record-keeping began in 1886 — and the eighth in the past five seasons.

Yesterday was historic for two reasons: It was the first time on record that two Category 5 Atlantic hurricanes made landfall in the same year, with Felix coming two weeks after Hurricane Dean slammed into southern Mexico.

Also, Atlantic and Pacific hurricanes had never before made landfall on the same date, according to records that began in 1949.

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