Hurricane Frances continues to push along into the Bahamas, drawing closer to Florida by the hour.
Frances is now centered about 410 miles east-southeast of the lower Florida east coast. Movement remains west-northwest at 13 miles an hour, though a turn more northwest is expected. The hurricane's forward motion is also expected to slow.
Top sustained winds remain at 145 miles an hour, with higher gusts. Hurricane-force winds extend out 80 miles from center, with tropical storm-force winds out 185 miles.
Forecasters look for swells generated by Frances to begin reaching the southeast U.S. coast before too long, meaning dangerous surf with rip currents.
Frances centered at latitude 23.8 north, longitude 74.4 west.
Evacuations Under Way
Hurricane warnings are posted and over one million coastal residents have been told to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Frances, which could be the mightiest storm to hit the state in over a decade.
The hurricane warning covers most of the state's eastern coast, from Florida City north to Flagler Beach. Most of the residents told to leave are from South Florida, but Volusia County also plans to begin evacuation of mobile homes and coastal areas by tomorrow morning.
The entire city of Miami Beach is under an evacuation order. Forecasters say Frances' dangerous core could still strike anywhere along Florida, either late Friday or early Saturday.
Other evacuation orders cover 300,000 people in Palm Beach County and up to 250,000 in Broward County. Those who live in mobile homes and on barrier islands of about half a dozen counties also are being ordered to find safer locations. Forecasters say storm surges of 15 feet or more could affect the coast if Frances takes dead aim.
Traffic is backed up on section of Interstate 95, but the state hopes to avoid a repeat of the evacuation mess during Hurricane Floyd in 1999, when 1.3 million people were told to evacuate the state's East Coast. Traffic backed up 30 miles or more as people headed inland, though only the outer effect's of the storm were felt in Florida.
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