122. Hurricane Dean

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Hurricane Dean looked like a monster. It developed into a category 5, the highest and most dangerous level. Category 1 is called "minimal," with wind speeds up to 95 mph. Category 5 is called "catastrophic," with wind speeds of at least 156 mph. It blows over trees and destroys small buildings. Hurricane Dean hit Jamaica, just south of Cuba. It destroyed hundreds of homes in Jamaica, and then continued west toward Belize and Yucatan, part of Mexico. Cancun, a Mexican resort town on the Gulf of Mexico, was also in danger.

Thousands of tourists caught early flights out of Cancun. But some stayed. "Hurricanes are usually more bark than bite," said one tourist from Mississippi. "Of course, sometimes they're all bite, like Katrina a couple of years ago, and Andrew and Camille before that."

"Don't forget Hugo, and Charley, and Agnes, and Rita," his wife chimed in. "Oh, yeah, and Gilbert! And what about Wilma?"

"Yeah, you're right. They can be dangerous. But usually, they just bring lots of rain and wind without much destruction. My wife and I are having a great time here in Cancun, and we're not going to pick up and leave, especially considering how much this vacation is costing us. We'll take our chances."

This tourist and his wife were lucky. Dean traveled south of Cancun, causing little damage to the resort. In fact, two days later, Cancun was almost completely cleaned up and bustling again. It was as if Dean had never been there. The hurricane brought heavy rain to parts of Mexico, but died out two days after hitting land. Two weeks later, Hurricane Felix, also a category 5 at one point, passed south of Jamaica and headed straight toward Nicaragua.


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