Hurricane Igor packs a punch in Atlantic Ocean

Mon Sep 13, 2010 11:28pm EDT
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MIAMI (Reuters) - Hurricane Igor churned westward in the Atlantic Ocean as a dangerous Category 4 storm and could strengthen in the coming days, forecasters said late on Monday.

Igor was strong enough to cause catastrophic damage but posed no immediate threat to land or energy interests. It was too soon to rule out an impact on the U.S. East Coast, but the chances of such a landfall were viewed as slim.

The powerful hurricane had top sustained winds of 140 miles per hour and could intensify in the next couple of days, forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

All the computer models keep Igor in the Atlantic and away from the Gulf of Mexico, where U.S. oil and gas operations are clustered.

Behind Igor, Tropical Storm Julia developed over the far eastern Atlantic Ocean on Sunday, becoming the 10th named storm of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season.

Igor, the fourth hurricane of the 2010 Atlantic season, was centered 785 miles east of the Caribbean's northern Leeward Islands at 11 p.m. EDT, the Miami-based center said.

Although Igor seemed to be nearing its peak intensity, it wouldn't take much to boost it into a Category 5 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity, with winds topping 155 mph.

Igor was moving west and was expected to turn west-northwest by Tuesday. Computer models disagreed on how sharp a turn Igor would take, said Michael Brennan, a senior hurricane specialist at the center.

A west-northwest track would take it near Bermuda on Saturday, but a sharper northerly turn would keep it over the open Atlantic.   Continued...