satellite image 311 R.
(photo credit: Reuters)
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.
Hurricane Irene loses power but batters New York
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.
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.