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Hurricane threatens Florida boat show

OCT. 20 - The National Hurricane Center Thursday morning urged residents of the Florida Keys and the Florida Peninsula to closely monitor and take precautions against Hurricane Wilma, as it threatened to strike Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

As of 11 a.m. Thursday, the eye of Hurricane Wilma was 170 miles south-southeast of Cozumel, Mexico, the hurricane center reported. Wilma had weakened to a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 145 mph. The storm, moving west-northwest at about 7 mph, had hurricane force winds extending up to 90 miles and tropical storm force winds extending 260 miles. The hurricane was expected to strengthen over the following 24 hours.

With the possibility of Hurricane Wilma making landfall in Florida, organizers of this year’s Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (Oct. 27 to 31) called off plans to begin setting up the event, according to news reports. Production staff members were directed Wednesday to take down tents and pack up boxes.

Organizers reportedly hope that Hurricane Wilma will only be an inconvenience, pushing back the start of the show a couple of hours.

Jason Fell