CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) -- East Coast beachgoers and coastal
residents kept a watch on changing weather forecasts Saturday as
Hurricane Dennis added muscle while moving slowly through the
The storm's course was uncertain. Various computer models
suggested it could affect the coast of the Carolinas late Monday or
Tuesday, or veer away from land, forecasters said.
"There's some glimmer of hope," National Hurricane Center
director Jerry Jarrell said Saturday afternoon. "Some of the
models are beginning to show that it may miss the coast."
It would take another day or two before forecasters could feel
more confident in their forecast for the Carolinas, he said, but
"it is a glimmer of hope."
Forecasters also had warned that Dennis might stall somewhere
along the coast, giving it more time to pile up a storm surge and
to batter the beach with erosive waves.
The hurricane center cautioned that storms can deviate widely
"This is not the time to let down our guard nor is there any
reason to panic," said Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr.
Damon Smith wasn't letting his guard down, as he stocked up with
20 gallons of bottled water on South Carolina's Isle of Palms.
"My gut feeling is it's not going to hit, but I like to be
prepared just in case," Smith said.
Dennis battered the northern Bahamas early Saturday, tearing up
trees and utility poles, ripping small boats from their moorings
and breaking down buildings under construction.
At 2 p.m. EDT, Dennis had strengthened, with its sustained wind
accelerating to 100 mph, and was centered about 200 miles
east-southeast of Cape Canaveral, Fla., the hurricane center said.
It was moving toward the northwest at about 6 mph, and was expected
to gradually turn toward the north-northwest.
The hurricane was expected to strengthen, and could become a
Category 3 storm, with wind of 111 mph to 130 mph.
Tropical storm warnings and a hurricane watch were in effect
Saturday for the Florida coast north to the Georgia state line, and
the hurricane center said the watches and warnings would be
extended northward as the storm moved.
A heavy surf advisory was posted for the coast of Georgia. Some
people called resorts to cancel their reservations while others
went to the beach to surf in the high waves.
Five-foot seas also attracted dozens of surfers Saturday off
Cocoa Beach, Fla.
"I grew up in Hawaii so the only real challenge left is to say
I've surfed hurricane waves," Bill Boggs, 45, said as he watched
fellow surfers off the Cocoa Beach Pier.
Cheryl Woods-Flowers, the mayor of Mount Pleasant, S.C., just
east of Charleston, said people should at least get ready for
protective measures such as covering windows.
"I'm probably not going to start putting my husband on a ladder
until tomorrow," she said.
About 1,000 South Carolina National Guardsmen were on alert
upstate and some 600 law enforcement officers were on the coast in
case they are needed to direct traffic in the event of an
Gov. Jim Hodges met with emergency officials early Saturday to
be briefed on the storm.
"At this point we are still not talking about any evacuation,
we are simply taking the normal precautions that should be taken,"
On the Isle of Palms, landscaper David Schwartz stocked up on
water but said he would likely leave if Dennis threatens.
"The way the last ones have been, I have no gut feeling," he
said. "They are so unpredictable."