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Powerful Hurricane Moves Across Atlantic Ocean - 2003-09-12

U.S. weather forecasters say a powerful hurricane is continuing its slow movement westward across the Atlantic Ocean, with sustained winds of about 260 kilometers an hour.

They say the center of the huge storm still is 600 kilometers northeast of islands in the Caribbean Sea. And it could be several days before the hurricane, called Isabel, will reach land.

The U.S. national hurricane center says the storm is moving to the west at only about 15 kilometers an hour, and is expected to remain on that track for the next 24 hours.

Tropical storm winds extend out almost 300 kilometers from the center of the hurricane. Forecasters say large ocean swells and hazardous surf are likely in the northern Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico for the next several days.

The forecasters call Isabel a category five hurricane, one that can cause widespread destruction on land. The most recent category five hurricane in the region, in 1998 - devastated parts of Central America and killed thousands of people.