The latest report this morning puts Hurricane Frances about 470 miles east-southeast of West Palm Beach with hurricane-force winds extending 80 miles from the center. That makes it about twice as wide as Hurricane Charley.
The hurricane is heading west-northwest at 13 miles per hour with top sustained winds of 145 miles per hour.
Hurricane watches stretch 230 miles from Craig Key to Flagler Beach and nearly half a (m) million people have been ordered to leave their homes by this afternoon.
People in the hurricane watch areas should NOT concentrate on the forecasted track of Hurricane Frances today but just get ready.
That warning this morning from the National Hurricane Center. Forecaster Jack Beven says QUOTE-"a slight dip in the track could
result in big changes in landfall."
Forecasters say it could make landfall anywhere from South Florida to South Carolina. Many businesses along the Atlantic coast began closing yesterday, some not planning to reopen until Sunday at the earliest.
Forecasters say Frances could begin affecting Florida late tonight.
Frances is a category 4 storm but could become a Category 5 with winds of 156 miles per hour or higher by the time it makes landfall, possibly Friday night or Saturday morning.
At 7 a-m C-D-T, Frances centered at latitude 23.2 north, longitude 73.5 west.