Hurricane Igor leaps to Cat 4 status over Atlantic
MIAMI (Reuters) - Hurricane Igor strengthened rapidly over the Atlantic Ocean on Sunday, becoming a large and dangerous Category 4 storm as it spun menacingly westward.
Igor, capable of causing catastrophic damage, posed no imminent threat to land or energy interests.
But the U.S. National Hurricane Center said Igor was packing top sustained winds of 140 miles per hour, making it a "major" Category 4 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity.
"Igor continues to intensify at a rapid pace," the Miami-based hurricane center said.
It said the storm was located about 1,065 miles east of the Caribbean's northern Leeward Islands at 5 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT).
Some additional strengthening of Igor was expected over the next three days but it was expected to fall short of becoming a Category 5 storm before it begins to weaken gradually on Thursday.
Computer models project Igor, which became the fourth hurricane of the 2010 Atlantic season late on Saturday, would stay in the Atlantic for the coming days and not enter the Gulf of Mexico, where U.S. oil and gas operations are clustered.
Veteran forecaster Jeff Masters said on Sunday on his Weather Underground blog (www.wunderground.com) that Igor may threaten Bermuda but had only a small chance of making landfall on the U.S. East Coast or in Canada.
Masters and other forecasters said it was still too early to make any definitive predictions about Igor's long-term fate, however. Continued...