Hurricane Frances

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September 3rd
The latest report this morning puts the center of Hurricane Frances about 260 miles off South Florida.

It's moving west-northwest at near nine miles per hour.

Frances is now a Category three storm, with top sustained winds of 120 miles per hour. That's down from about 145 miles per hour yesterday -- but forecasters say the weakening could be fluctuation
typical with large storms.

And Frances is much bigger than Hurricane Charley, which slashed across Florida just three weeks ago. With Frances, hurricane-force winds extend up to 85 miles from the center.

A hurricane warning stretches along most of Florida's east coast, from Florida City to Flagler Beach.

Forecasters can't say with certainty where Frances will come ashore, just that the core would strike late tomorrow. But the storm could start affecting Florida late tonight.

Frances centered at latitude 25.3 north, longitude 76.4 west.

Interstate 75 is jammed at the Florida line as people flee to Georgia ahead of Hurricane Frances.

A Georgia State Patrol dispatcher in Valdosta -- Amy Exum -- says traffic was either stopped early today or moving about 15 miles an hour through Lowndes County, Georgia, at the Florida line. She says six wrecks have been reported since 11 p-m yesterday because of the heavy traffic.

On Georgia's coast, traffic is heavy on Interstate 95. Most of the rest stops in the area are full.

Georgia State Patrol dispatcher Renee Easterling says gas stations in Brunswick were packed when she drove to work at 4:30 a-m today. She says she spoke with a trooper in the Valosta area who said officers have had to tell motorists stopped in their cars to sleep on the interstate to move along.

About two-point-five (m) million residents have been told to leave Florida ahead of what could be the most powerful storm to hit Florida in a decade.