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Monday, August 24, 1998 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Hurricane Bonnie Threatens U.S. Coast -- Two Drown, Dozens Rescued

AP

NASSAU, Bahamas - Hurricane Bonnie slowly churned up the Atlantic with 115 mph winds today, prompting people from Florida to North Carolina to stock up on emergency supplies. Two swimmers drowned and dozens had to be rescued from East Coast beaches.

The governor of South Carolina urged tourists not to worry but called on the National Guard to get ready for Bonnie, and surfers in several states flocked to ride the pounding waves.

The National Hurricane Center outside Miami reported the 400-mile-wide storm was 550 miles east of Miami at 11 a.m. EDT.

The hurricane - a Category 3 storm capable of causing severe coastal flooding and serious damage to buildings and homes - has been wobbling northwest at 5 mph. The center said a hurricane watch may be issued for part of the southeastern U.S. coast later today.

On Hatteras Island, N.C., tourists and residents were shopping for hurricane supplies.

A hurricane warning was already posted for the central Bahamas, and a hurricane watch was issued for the northwestern Bahamas.

It was not clear exactly where, when or even if the hurricane would strike the U.S. mainland.

Two computer weather models indicated a slow northwest motion toward Georgia or South Carolina, but another predicted the hurricane would pass 100 miles off North Carolina's Outer Banks.

If the storm does makes landfall, the most likely area will be between Charleston, S.C., and Cape Hatteras, N.C., the weather

service said.

South Carolina Gov. David Beasley asked 1,000 National Guardsmen to move to their armories today to be ready for Bonnie.

Waves reportedly reached 8 feet in South Carolina and 4 feet in Atlantic City, N.J.

Riptides were blamed for the deaths yesterday of a 25-year-old man at Surfside Beach, S.C., and a 24-year-old man at Rehoboth Beach, Del. Thirty people were rescued in Carolina Beach, N.C., and 100 were saved in Atlantic City, N.J.

Riptides are narrow channels of water flowing seaward from the beach through breaking waves or surf zones. They occur when two opposing currents meet, setting up a swirling motion that can carry swimmers away from shore.

The size of the storm worried forecasters. Hurricane-force winds extended 85 miles out from Bonnie's center.

Del Rio, Texas, under water after Charley innundates area

Most of Del Rio, Texas, was under water today as remnants of Tropical Storm Charley inundated the region along the U.S.-Mexico border. Sixteen people were reported dead and 20 or more missing.

Law-enforcement agencies closed nearly every major highway leading into Del Rio, a city of 34,000 people about 145 miles west of San Antonio.

Del Rio police officer John Wilson said 20 to 30 people were unaccounted for today.

Tropical Storm Charley rolled ashore from the Gulf of Mexico late Friday and early Saturday. It quickly weakened into a tropical depression, but the remnants of the system have sat nearly stationary over Del Rio, pouring water on a region that had been suffering drought conditions.

The National Weather Service said Del Rio got a record 11.87 inches of rain yesterday.

The U.S. Border Patrol reported two flooding deaths in Del Rio today. Mexico's news agency Notimex reported nine people died in Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, when they were washed away while trying to cross an arroyo holding a rope.

Elsewhere in Texas, four people were killed and six others were injured yesterday when a pickup truck was swept into a creek in Real County, about 100 miles northwest of San Antonio.

Copyright (c) 1998 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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