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Boston Weather: 42.0°F | Mostly Cloudy

Approaching Bahamas, Floyd Likened to ’89 Hurricane Hugo

By Sue Anne Pressley

Hurricane Floyd, a monster storm drawing comparisons to the devastating hurricanes Hugo and Andrew, bore down on the Bahamas and the southeast coast of the United States Monday with 155 mph winds approaching catastrophic strength.

Forecasters with the National Hurricane Center urged residents and officials from South Florida to the Carolinas to make preparations for a destructive blow that could strike almost anywhere along the coast, depending on whether the storm continued its current westerly course or, as predicted, turned northwest Monday night or Tuesday.

From the Miami homeowner rushing out to buy plywood to protect his windows to the guardians of the nation’s four multibillion-dollar space shuttles housed at the Kennedy Space Center near Titusville, Fla., residents of the most vulnerable areas of Floyd’s projected track worked Monday to get ready for a storm that could be historic in its size and intensity.

“We feel like we’ve done everything we can to protect these national assets, but it could rip through here like nothing anybody’s ever seen before,” said Bruce Buckingham, a spokesman at the space center.

Exactly where Floyd might strike remained a deeply troubling mystery Monday, as forecasters admitted the storm is not following any of their usual models.

A hurricane warning, meaning hurricane conditions could develop within 24 hours, was posted late Monday afternoon for all of Florida’s east coast, from south Miami-Dade County to just south of Brunswick, Ga., upgrading a hurricane watch that had been in place since the morning. Although meteorologists at the National Hurricane Center were predicting that a trough of low-pressure would reach down and scoop the storm up the coast, avoiding a direct hit at the Florida shore, the timing was critical. Hurricane-force winds could still rake the Florida coast.

Jerry Jarrell, director of the National Hurricane Center, said coastal residents cannot afford to underestimate the fury of Floyd.