by Staff Writers
Miami (AFP) Sept 7, 2011
A new tropical storm, the 13th named system of the 2011 season, churned in the Atlantic Wednesday, US forecasters said, as a separate system in the Gulf showed signs of strengthening in the coming days.
Tropical storm Maria was roiling the seas far out in the Atlantic Ocean, some 1,305 miles (2,095 kilometers) east of the Lesser Antilles, said the Miami-based National Hurricane Center.
With wind speeds pushing 50 miles (85 km) per hour, Maria was expected to strengthen in the next 48 hours as it moves westward towards the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean islands.
In the Gulf, a broad area of low pressure was "showing some signs of organization" amid conditions favorable for it to develop into a tropical depression as early as Thursday, said the NHC, and has a "high chance" of becoming a tropical storm in the days to come.
A greatly weakened Hurricane Katia was expected to pass between the US east coast and Bermuda in the next two days without making landfall, forecasters said Wednesday.
The NHC earlier Wednesday downgraded Katia to a category one hurricane but issued a tropical storm watch for Bermuda as the storm neared, packing winds of up to 85 miles (140 km) an hour.
The NHC's 1500 GMT advisory put the eye of the storm 320 miles (515 km) southwest of Bermuda, on track to swing north between the island and the US mainland before weakening over the north Atlantic.
Although the storm was forecast to steer well clear of the US mainland, the NHC warned of continuing high and "life-threatening" ocean swells along the eastern seaboard, Bermuda and the Greater Antilles.
Much of the US east coast is still recovering from last week's Hurricane Irene, which caused widespread evacuations and flooding.
Katia, the 11th named storm of the Atlantic season which ends on November 30, had been downgraded to a tropical storm last week but regained hurricane status after passing over warmer water.
It is now listed as a category one hurricane, the lowest on the Saffir-Simpson scale, which ranks hurricanes based on wind strength.
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Katia weakens to category three hurricane: NHC
Miami (AFP) Sept 5, 2011
Katia weakened to a category three hurricane early Tuesday as it churned far off in the Atlantic but continued to heave storm swells against the US east coast, the National Hurricane Center said. Packing sustained winds of up to 125 miles (205 kilometers) per hour, the center of Katia was churning about 400 miles (625 kilometers) south of Bermuda at 0900 GMT, the Miami-based NHC said in its ... read more
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