National News

MOBILE, Alabama – Hurricane Ivan came ashore Thursday morning on the Gulf Coast near Mobile, Alabama, killing at least eight and causing significant damage.Ivan made landfall as a strong category three storm with winds of 135 mph. The eyewall passed over the resort town of Gulf Shores, Alabama, before heading inland and losing strength rapidly.Tornadoes have proven to be the most dangerous initial effects of Ivan. One tornado hit numerous homes in Blountstown, Florida, west of Tallahassee, killing five people. In Panama City Beach, Florida, tornadoes killed two others. The areas immediately affected by Ivan were Eastern Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama and the Florida panhandle. Heavy rain, strong winds, flooding and tornadoes are expected to extend into the Carolinas and the Appalachians over the next day or two. Before hitting the Gulf States, hurricane Ivan rampaged through the Caribbean as a Category 5 storm, killing over 60 people in Grenada, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Venezuela, Cuba and several other Caribbean islands. An estimated 702,000 people are without power, a number expected to go up as heavy winds and torrential downpours move further inland.Meanwhile, Hurricane Jeanne has formed near the Dominican Republic after moving diagonally across Puerto Rico as a tropical storm. It is unclear the path Jeanne will follow, but some computer models predict that it will impact the Eastern Florida coast by next weekend. If Jeanne were to make landfall in Florida, it would be the fifth tropical system and fourth hurricane to hit the state this season alone. On average, only two hurricanes hit the entire Atlantic coast per year.