MIAMI, July 8 (UPI) -- As Hurricane Dennis pounded Cuba Friday it was downgraded to a Category 3 storm but its top winds were still pushing 115 mph.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said the center of the storm at 9:00 p.m. EDT was about 45 miles east-southeast of Havana and Dennis was moving northwest at about 14 mph. The storm, which had been classified as a Category 4 hurricane with top winds of 145 mph Friday afternoon, was expected to emerge into the Straits of Florida during the late evening hours, and forecasters said it could reach the U.S. mainland Sunday or Monday.
Dennis was expected to weaken while its center remained over Cuba, and then regain major strength as it moves toward Florida.
CNN reported at least 10 deaths were blamed on Dennis in Cuba, where 600,000 people were evacuated from their homes, and thousands of homes were destroyed. Five deaths in Haiti were blamed on Dennis earlier Friday.
A hurricane warning was posted Friday night for much of Cuba Friday and the lower Florida Keys from the Seven Mile Bridge westward to the Dry Tortugas.
A tropical storm warning and a hurricane watch were in effect for the remainder of the keys.