Visitors ordered to leave Florida Keys
Center of Dennis swirling just northeast of Jamaica
MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- All nonresidents of the Florida Keys were ordered to leave as Florida officials prepared for the arrival of Hurricane Dennis, an emergency official for Monroe County said.
Monroe County Emergency Manager Billy Wagner said that trailers and recreational vehicles; campgrounds and state parks all come under the evacuation order.
He said more evacuation orders might be necessary, depending upon the track of the storm.
Forecasters predict Dennis will be west of the Keys on Saturday and could approach the central Gulf Coast on Sunday with landfall near Mobile, Alabama, about midday Monday.
Dennis is likely to intensify as it crosses the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
A Category 2 hurricane, Dennis has maximum sustained winds near 110 mph (175 kph) with higher gusts, according to the National Hurricane Center. That puts the hurricane just below the 115 mph (185 kph) threshold of Category 3 intensity.
Hurricanes are classified as categories 1 to 5 on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale. A Category 2 storm has winds of between 96-110 mph (154-177 kph).
The center of Hurricane Dennis was passing just to the northeast of Jamaica Thursday afternoon, the National Hurricane Center said.
The storm was expected to dump 4 to 8 inches of rain over southern Haiti, Jamaica, eastern Cuba and the Cayman Islands, with 12 inches possible in mountainous areas of Jamaica. The heavy rains could produce life-threatening flash floods and mudslides, forecasters warned.
At 2 p.m. ET, Hurricane Dennis was centered about 65 miles (105 kilometers) northeast of Kingston, Jamaica, and about 105 miles (170 kilometers) south of Guantanamo, Cuba.
Officials at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, said they did not expect to move the roughly 520 suspects held at a detention facility there.
Most of Cuba was under a hurricane warning; the remainder under a hurricane watch.
All of the Florida Keys and Florida Bay are under a hurricane watch. A tropical storm watch is in effect for all of the southern Florida Peninsula from Golden Beach southward on the east coast and south of Bonita Beach on the west coast.
NASA has no plans to delay the shuttle launch planned for next Wednesday, said a Kennedy Space Center spokesman. The launch of Discovery will end a nearly two-and-a-half-year shuttle hiatus that followed the Columbia disaster.
Cindy swamps South
Mobile is already swamped by rains from Tropical Storm Cindy, which came ashore late Tuesday near the mouth of the Mississippi River in Louisiana with sustained winds of 70 mph (112 kph).
After coming ashore, Cindy faded into a tropical depression as it moved northward, but the system continued to drop rain from the southern Appalachians to southern New England.
13 states -- from Georgia north to Connecticut -- have at least a portion under flood watches, the National Hurricane Center said.
The remnants of the storm pounded northern Georgia Wednesday night with strong winds and heavy rain.
South of Atlanta, storms cut a swath through the cities of Hampton, McDonough and Stockbridge, according to Sabrina Puckett with the Henry County Fire Department.
She said there are reports of power lines and trees down throughout the county.
Some of the heaviest damage was concentrated around Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of Atlanta.
Authorities evacuated a nine-story condominium building near the track after parts of the roof were torn off and windows were blown out.
Cindy's move across the Gulf of Mexico forced the evacuation of 23 of 819 oil platforms and six of 135 oil rigs, according to the Minerals Management Service. Dennis' approach, as a stronger storm, could prompt more.
The shutdown has interrupted more than 3 percent of the Gulf's normal oil and natural gas production, pushing oil prices above $60 a barrel in trading Wednesday.
CNN's Eric Fiegel contributed to this story.