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Jeanne could hit Florida

After days of weakening, drifting and pounding Florida's beaches from afar, Hurricane Jeanne mustered more strength and a semblance of direction Wednesday, once again putting most of the state's east coast in the wait and worry zone.

"We're not in panic mode yet, but we're watching with a wary eye to the east, that's for sure," said Ben Nelson, the state meteorologist in Tallahassee.

Forecasters expect Jeanne, which was about 700 miles south-southeast of Melbourne on Wednesday, to quit meandering and head in a west-northwesterly direction for the next few days.

That could bring the Category 2 storm and its 100-mph winds uncomfortably close to Florida's central east coast.

Forecasters also expect Jeanne to eventually curve more to the northwest, making the storm more of a threat to the Carolinas than the Sunshine State. But unable to say exactly when, where or if the northerly turn will come, they urged Floridians on the east coast, as well as inlanders in Central Florida, to watch Jeanne carefully.

High surf and riptides already swept South Florida's coast and forecasters issued low-level alerts for the Bahamas and the entire Southeast coast. A high surf advisory particularly warned of deadly rip currents. Swells will make inlets especially treacherous.

A buoy about 75 miles off Cape Canaveral reported 17-foot swells Wednesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, a resilient piece of Hurricane Ivan has redeveloped into a tropical depression and appeared poised for another attack on the Gulf Coast. Its likely destination is Louisiana or Texas.

Hurricane Jeanne: 26.1N 69W

Hurricane Karl: 28.2N 48.3W

Tropical Storm Lisa: 13.7N 41.9W

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