Katia ramps up power, but seen missing US East Coast

Hurricane Katia powers up to Category 4 storm, but expected to avoid direct hit on Hurricane Irene battered seaboard.

By REUTERS
September 6, 2011 14:35
2 minute read.
Hurricane Katia captured by GOES East satellite

satellite image 311 R. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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The US National Hurricane Center warned that US East Coast beaches should still watch out in the coming week for large swells generated by Katia that could cause life-threatening coastal surf and rip currents.

By late Monday evening, Katia's winds had strengthened to 215 kph, making it a Category 4 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson intensity scale as it tracked northwestward on a path over the ocean between Bermuda and the Caribbean, the Miami-based center said.

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The storm was moving toward the northwest at about 16 kph and the hurricane center said it was expected to continue in this general direction through Wednesday. The center said some fluctuations in strength were possible during the next 24 hours, followed by a slow weakening.

NHC hurricane specialist Robbie Berg told Reuters the greatest threat from Katia for the US eastern seaboard was likely to be the large swells and resulting dangerous coastal surf and currents the storm generated on its path.

"Even though these storms may stay offshore, they still can be a deadly threat, especially to people going to the beach," Berg said.

Forecasters and residents of the US Atlantic seaboard have been keeping an anxious eye on Katia after Hurricane Irene raked up the East Coast from the Carolinas to Maine last weekend. It killed at least 40 people and caused extensive flooding, especially in New Jersey and Vermont.

Berg said the latest five-day forecast predicted the hurricane would swing north and then northeastward from Thursday in between Bermuda and the US mainland, pushed away from the East Coast by a developing low pressure trough. He added that there was still a one in 10 chance parts of the East Coast could experience tropical storm-force winds when Katia passed well offshore later this week, especially jutting coastal areas like North Carolina's Outer Banks and Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Bermuda could also experience such winds.

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Elsewhere, the Sept. 10 peak of the annual Atlantic hurricane season is approaching, and hurricane spotters have already been watching another tropical wave, located southwest of the Cape Verde Islands off Africa. It was moving westward and the NHC gave it a "high" chance of becoming a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours.

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