At about 10Z this morning, Hurricane Dean crossed the Lesser Antilles, between Martinique and St. Lucia (one side of the eyewall on each).
Martinique experienced severe conditions, with wind gusts up to 120mph, 30-foot waves, and 4"/hr rainrates.
Dean is now in the west central Caribbean and gaining strength very quickly. The latest intensity as of 18Z is 110kts and 961mb, making it a strong CAT3 hurricane (almost CAT4). There appears to be almost nothing to hinder further intensification this weekend.
In the past 24 hours, the maximum sustained winds have increased 30kts and the central pressure fell 18mb. The hurricane now has an open eye 15 nautical miles across.
It is expected to travel WNW across the Caribbean, hitting Jamaica on Sunday evening and Cancun on Tuesday morning, both as a very powerful and dangerous hurricane. By mid-late next week, all interests in the western Gulf should be prepared for Dean, from Mexico to Louisiana.
Please visit my tropical Atlantic headquarters.