Ivan, which was declared a tropical storm yesterday, becamea hurricane today, making it the fastest developing southAtlantic hurricane ever recorded. Ivan is presently on atrack to strike south Florida, and is expected to become aCategory 5 hurricane tomorrow. This is the most powerfulhurricane category. A Category 5 storm on the Saffir-Simpsonscale carries sustained winds in excess of 155 MPH.

With the warm waters of the vast south Atlantic to feed it,the storm could reach record intensity. At present, it hassustained winds of 135 mph.

Hurricane Gilbert, which struck the Yucatan in 1988 was,with winds of 200 MPH, the most powerful Atlantic hurricaneever recorded.

Ivan was centered about 700 miles east-southeast of Barbadoslate Sunday, too far away to tell with any certainty whetherit would hit the continental United States, according to theUS National Hurrican Center. However, weather patterns showno indication of changing in the next few days. Unless ahigh pressure system moves south through the United Statesand out to sea, Ivan is likely to make landfall in theCarribbean within three to five days.

Ivan was moving west-northwest at about 21 mph and wasexpected to continue that direction. If the storm continueson its present track, it will strike south Florida inapproximately seven days.

For updates, visit NOAA’s NationalHurricane Center.

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