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Gabrielle Strengthens to Hurricane

September 17, 2001

MIAMI (AP) _ Gabrielle strengthened into a hurricane Sunday as it moved over the Atlantic, prompting Bermuda to issue a tropical storm warning for the island.

Gabrielle, the third hurricane of the season, was about 375 miles west of Bermuda late Sunday, moving toward the east-northeast at nearly 18 mph. Hurricane force winds extended outward up to 25 miles and tropical storm force winds extended outward up to 275 miles.

Dangerous surf and large waves were expected to affect Bermuda on Monday, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

Gabrielle had drenched Florida over the weekend with up to 11 inches of rain and blacked out half a million utility customers at its peak.

Florida Power & Light Co. had about 26,000 customers still without power at Sunday night, with 11,000 in Sarasota County and 10,000 in Manatee County.

Despite the many problems it created, Gabrielle did give Florida some relief from the dry conditions affecting much of the state.

``From a rainfall deficit, this probably ended the drought,″ South Florida Water Management District spokesman Randy Smith.

However, some lakes on Florida’s west coast are still 3 to 5 feet below normal.

Even farther out in the Atlantic, slowly weakening Hurricane Felix appeared to be no threat to its nearest land _ the mid Atlantic Azores island chain.

Hurricane Felix had sustained wind of only 75 mph, down from 120 mph during the week.

Heavy surf and large battering waves were expected to affect to the Azores Islands on Monday, the hurricane center said.


On the Net:

National Weather Service: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/mia

National Hurricane Center: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov

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