Gustav is a hurricane again after the system expanded in size and intensified Friday as it rolled toward the Cayman Islands and Cuba.
Jamaican officials confirmed four fatalities in that country, and the death toll continued to mount in Gustav's wake in Hispaniola. Haitian officials confirmed at least 59 deaths there, and Dominican Republic authorities said eight people died when a rain-drenched cliff gave way.
Preparations began Friday in Cuba, where the western Pinar Del Río province and the city of Isle of Youth were told to watch out for flooding. Vice President Carlos Lago visited Isle of Youth and ordered farmers there to protect livestock and crops.
Hurricane center forecasters now expect Hurricane Gustav to rapidly develop as it moves past western Cuba and into the Gulf of Mexico, where the U.S. coast from south Texas to the Mississippi-Alabama border are in the five-day cone.
All computer models are in agreement that Gustav will grow into a ferocious hurricane -- conservative estimates predict a Category 3 -- before it makes landfall sometime late Monday or early Tuesday. The question remains where exactly it will strike.
''Gustav is expected to be a large, powerful hurricane as it approaches the northern Gulf Coast,'' forecasters said in a Friday advisory.
The prospect of a major hurricane striking the Gulf Coast -- home to a large chunk of U.S. crude-oil production -- sent oil prices soaring above $120 a barrel. Analysts said it could bring a spike in gas prices heading into the travel-heavy Labor Day weekend.
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