Hurricane Katia churns across deep Atlantic
Hurricane Katia crept westward in the deep Atlantic on Thursday, threatening to swell into a major storm by the weekend, just one week after Irene caused massive flooding in the US northeast.
Packing winds of 75 miles (120 kilometers) per hour, the category one Katia threatened to “become a major hurricane by the weekend,” according to the Miami-based National Hurricane Center.
“Additional strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours,” the NHC warned.
However, Katia remained some 1,065 miles (1,710 kilometers) east of the Leeward islands — too far to affect any land mass — and there was a chance it would cycle north and disintegrate without hitting the North American mainland.
The new hurricane approached as US President Barack Obama declared a “major” disaster area in New Jersey and announced plans to visit the flood-hit state on Sunday to view damage wrought by Hurricane Irene, the Atlantic season’s first.
Thousands remain cut off by flooding in Vermont, New Jersey and upstate New York in the aftermath of Irene, which killed nearly 50 people.
Three days after the storm passed, some marooned families are still waiting for the national guard and firefighters to bring food and water to swamped towns.
Officials have reported at least 43 deaths across 11 states, including eight in New York, seven in New Jersey and six in North Carolina, where Irene made landfall Saturday with winds upwards of 85 miles an hour.
The hurricane was already responsible for at least five deaths in the Caribbean before it struck the United States, and is being blamed for a 49th fatality in Canada, where the storm finally petered out on Tuesday.