Monday, November 28, 2005

Tropical storm Delta expected in Morocco late Monday

The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami said Delta is expected to reach the Moroccan coast and the Spanish-controlled Canary Islands late Monday or early Tuesday.

Delta is the 25th named storm of the record-breaking six-month Atlantic hurricane season, which started on June 1 and officially ends on Wednesday. But forecasters warn that tropical storms and hurricanes can still develop in December.

The storm strengthened in the Atlantic Ocean on Sunday and threatened to strike the Canary Islands as it raced toward the Moroccan coastline.

“Gale-force winds are possible in the Canary and Madeira Islands today and could reach the coast of Morocco by late tonight or early Tuesday,'' the NHC said.

At 03:00 a.m GMT, the storm was centred about 1,280 km west of La Palma in the Canary Islands and was speeding northeast at 43 kph, reported Reuters news agency.

Forecasters at the hurricane centre said it is expected to move over or just north of the Canary Islands on Monday, sending gale-force winds across the archipelago, and then will dissipate over the southern Moroccan coasts in late Monday or early Tuesday.

Delta is a strong tropical storm with sustained winds just below hurricane level. For a storm to be named, it needs to have sustained winds reaching a minimum 62 kph, while a hurricane is a storm with a cyclonic wind circulation of at least 117 kph.

The current Atlantic hurricane season has broken some long-standing records, including the most tropical storms and hurricanes.

A total of 25 named storms have been registered between June and the end of November, breaking the old record of 21 during the 1993 season. Thirteen hurricanes have struck so far, shattering the 1969 record of 12.

The season has set another record of three category five hurricanes, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma, the highest number in one season. Wilma would become the strongest hurricane on record in the Atlantic Basin, with a pressure of 882 mb, breaking the 1988 Gilbert recod held with a 888-mb pressure.

The season has also registered records for the costliest ever US natural disaster, caused by Hurricane Katrina, which struck New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast in August.


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