Posted by: Schuyler R. Thorpe | September 17, 2011

Katia Expected To Become A Hurricane In The Atlantic

Katia expected to become a hurricane in Atlantic

MIAMI (Reuters) – Tropical Storm Katia was expected to strengthen into a hurricane over the open Atlantic on Wednesday while another mass of thunderstorms in the western Caribbean was headed for Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, forecasters said.

Katia had sustained winds of 65 miles per hour and would become the second hurricane of the June-through-November Atlantic hurricane season if those winds reach 74 mph.

“Strengthening is forecast during the next day or two and Katia will probably become a hurricane today,” forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

It was forecast to become a major hurricane with winds over 111 mph on Sunday but it was still too early to tell whether it would threaten land.

At 11 a.m. EDT, Katia was about 1,100 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands. It was moving rapidly west-northwest and was forecast to turn northwest in a couple of days on a course that would keep it away from the Caribbean islands.

Hurricane Irene rampaged up the U.S. East Coast over the weekend and authorities on the U.S. Atlantic seaboard are keeping an eye on Katia to see which path it takes.

Long-range computer models, which can be off by hundreds of miles, show Katia nearing the mid-Atlantic island of Bermuda in about a week. Several models turned it north away from the U.S. East Coast.

The Atlantic hurricane season typically brings 11 or 12 named storms. Katia is already the 11th, and with half of the season still ahead it is shaping up to be the unusually busy year that was predicted.

Energy companies with oil and natural gas operations in the Gulf of Mexico were keeping watch on a mass of thunderstorms in the northwest Caribbean Sea.

Forecasters said there was only a 10 percent chance of it developing into a tropical cyclone in the next two days, though the odds could rise after it moves over the Yucatan Peninsula and into the Gulf of Mexico.

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