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Monday, August 30, 1999 Published at 14:54 GMT 15:54 UK

World: Americas

Uncertainty over hurricane landfall

High seas generated by Hurricane Dennis pound the Florida coastline

The centre of Hurricane Dennis is maintaining a course more than 130km (80 miles) off the North Carolina coast.

But the edge of the storm has continued to bring pelting rain and strong winds, with flooding in some coastal communities.

A forecast issued by the United States National Weather Centre in Miamai at 0300EDT (0700GMT) predicted Dennis would turn north east away from land, but the possibility of a landfall still remains.

A hurricane warning is in effect for much of the North Carolina coast as far as the Maryland border, with islands along the Outer Banks under an evacuation order since Sunday.

[ image: Feeling the early signs of Hurricane Dennis]
Feeling the early signs of Hurricane Dennis
At 0700EDT Dennis was travelling northeast at 19 km/h (12mph), with maximum sustained winds of nearly 160 km/h (100mph). Stronger gusts were expected, with a general strengthening of wind speeds into Tuesday.

Click here to see a map of the hurricane's path

Flood warnings were posted in coastal districts of North Caroline, where rain had been falling at nearly three inches an hour.

The storm also caused more than 50,000 customers in the central and western parts of the state to lose their electricity supply.


Officials at the National Hurricane Centre say that if the large eye of Dennis contracts, then the storm could intensify and possibly hit land.

But they have warned that the highest winds are well removed from the centre.

Todd Kimberlain, a meteorologist with the National Hurricane Centre, said: "Even if the centre stays offshore, there's a good chance in the warned area that they're going to experience hurricane conditions."

State authorities in Georgia felt relief for the first time in days as Dennis' northerly push assured the state it was free from its wrath.

In Florida, where a two-day brush with Dennis' outer edge brought downpours and wind gusts but no serious damage, surfers returned to the rolling seas.

[ image:  ]

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