Update: Gustav Becomes a Hurricane

August 26, 2008
(8 p.m.) -- Update: As of 8 p.m. EDT, Hurricane Gustav was located about 60 miles west-southwest of Port Au Prince and about 180 miles southeast of Guantanamo Bay. The storm is battering Haiti, though its winds have died down to 75 miles per hour. The hurricane is expected to move back over water tonight and head in a west-northwest direction toward Cuba. If Hurricane Gustav continues on its predicted path, it will not make many more landfalls and could strengthen into a major hurricane, with potentially devastating consequences for the Gulf states.

(12:55 p.m.) -- Gustav has accomplished what Fay could not -- it has become a hurricane, only days after it strengthened into a named storm.

At 11 a.m. EDT, the National Hurricane Center reported that the center of Hurricane Gustav was located about 50 miles south of Port Au Prince, Haiti, and 240 miles southeast of Guantanamo, Cuba. Maximum sustained winds are near 90 miles per hour, making Gustav a Category One Hurricane. The storm is on track to move over southwestern Haiti today and near eastern Cuba on Wednesday. Some strengthening is possible before the hurricane reaches land.

Cuba and Jamaica, in addition to the Dominican Republic and Haiti, now have hurricane warnings and watches in place. Current predictions show the storm passing between Jamaica and Cuba, possibly over the Cayman Islands, then heading toward the Gulf of Mexico -- and ultimately toward New Orleans or Houston.

The storm has already re-routed one ship, Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas. We'll keep you posted about further storm developments and itinerary changes.

--by Erica Silverstein, Associate Editor