As of midnight EDT, Unknowncountry correspondents in Floridawere describing Hurricane Frances as “relentless” and “hammeringus.” One reader wrote, “why won’t it move, it’s like a curse?”

While wind speeds were not catastrophic, the slow movementof the storm means that structures are being pounded hourafter hour, and damage, over time, is expected to be severe.

Most hurricanes move at 12 to 20 MPH, but by midnightFrances had slowed to 5 MPH, meaning that the wind and rainwas not letting up in south Florida. The storm has beenashore for six hours, and the worst winds will not hit untilbetween one and two AM EDT, and are expected to continue forfour to six hours thereafter.

Sustained winds are expected to reach 90 to 110 MPH, andsevere flooding is expected, with rainfall totalsanticipated at upwards of 15 inches.

Nearly two million Florida residents were without power, andover a million had evacuated as of 6PM EDT.

The storm is expected to cause upwards of five billiondollars worth of damage, making it potentially the thirdmost damaging storm in Florida history. It comes just daysafter Hurricane Charley, which was the second most damagingstorm in the state’s history. The greatest damage was causedby Hurricane Andrew, which struck in 1992.

Even as the remnants of Charley dissipated over theMidatlantic states and Frances came ashore in Florida,Tropical Depression Ivan of the Atlantic Coast of Africa wasupgraded to a tropical storm and began its journey acrossthe south central Atlantic.

Area air and water conditons remain excellent forhurricanes, and Ivan could well evolve into one. If it does,it is also on a track that classically involves thesoutheastern United States, and there is at present no highpressure system moving down from the north that is likely todeflect it.

Climatologists anticipate more and more fierce hurricanesthis year and in future years, because global warming isproceeding much faster than anticipated. Because it causesthe oceans and the lower atmosphere to get warmer whilecausing the stratosphere to become cooler, it creates idealconditions for fierce storms.

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