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Washington (AFP) June 21, 2012
Chris has strengthened to become the first Atlantic hurricane of 2012, but is way off the coast of Canada's Newfoundland and posing no threat to land, US experts said Thursday.
The Miami-based National Hurricane Center said the storm's top winds had jumped to 75 miles (120 kilometers) per hour, making it a category one hurricane on the five-point Saffir-Simpson scale.
Chris was located in the northern Atlantic, 625 miles (1,005 kilometers) southeast of Cape Race on the eastern tip of Newfoundland and churning northeast, farther out to sea, at 20 miles (32 kilometers) per hour.
The storm was expected to take a turn to the north later Thursday before heading northwest and west as it weakens on Friday.
"Weakening is expected over the next 48 hours and Chris is expected to become a post-tropical cyclone on Friday," the NHC bulletin said.
US forecasters were also keeping an eye on a low pressure area over the south-central Gulf of Mexico linked to a series of heavy rains and thunderstorms.
"Regardless of development, heavy rains and localized flooding are possible across the Yucatan Peninsula, western Cuba and southern Florida through Saturday," the NHC said.
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