Lili isn't a threat to area

Published: Tuesday, October 1, 2002 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 30, 2002 at 10:52 p.m.
Lili, the Caribbean storm that caused thousands of evacuations in Cuba and Jamaica, was upgraded to a hurricane on Monday, but it's too far away to affect this area directly, weather forecasters said.
Hurricane Lili is expected to strike land near the Louisiana-Texas border on Thursday or Friday with sustained winds as high 110 mph, said Andrew Shashy, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jacksonville.
Today for North Florida, there is a 20 percent chance of afternoon thunderstorms, with easterly winds about 15 mph, Shashy said.
A high-pressure system centered above North Florida and south Georgia is protecting the area from being directly affected by Lili, Shashy said.
An unrelated easterly flow of wind is bringing moisture in from the Atlantic Ocean, he said. The moisture combined with daytime heat could lead to isolated showers and thunderstorms, he said.
For the rest of the week, it's expected to remain partly cloudy and breezy with a 20 percent to 30 percent chance of afternoon thunderstorms and temperatures in the upper 80s to low 90s.
No warnings or alerts related to Lili were issued for the area Monday, but the Office of Emergency Management is tracking Lili to make sure "we don't let our guard down," said Steve Abrams, emergency manager for Alachua County.
"We just have to wait and see what Lili does," Abrams said. "If it intensifies, we may see some rain."
Lili became the season's fourth hurricane early Monday when its maximum sustained winds increased to 75 mph as it passed over Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, also brushing eastern Cuba.
At 8 p.m., Lili was centered 145 miles southeast of the Isle of Youth just south of Cuba and moving west-northwest at 10 mph. Forecasters expect it to continue in that direction, taking Lili through western Cuba.
Lili will weaken as it passes through Cuba but will strengthen once it emerges in the Gulf of Mexico, eventually becoming a category 2 storm, which have winds of at least 96 mph, forecasters said. From there, Lili is virtually assured to make landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Rain bands from Lili will sweep through South Florida by early today, bringing scattered heavy showers and intensified winds, though not near tropical storm levels, meteorologists said. These conditions could last through Wednesday.
Last week, Hurricane Isidore hit western Cuba before weakening to a tropical storm over the Yucatan Peninsula.
Isidore came ashore in Louisiana on Thursday, flooding homes there and in Mississippi, Alabama, the Florida Panhandle and Tennessee.
Forecasters warned that the areas that were flooded last week would be susceptible to even worse flooding if they're hit by Lili this week.

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