Tropical Storm Katia, moving west- northwest across the Atlantic Ocean, is likely to strengthen into a hurricane tonight, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.
Katia, 1,285 miles (2,070 kilometers) east of the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean, had maximum winds near 70 mph, up from 65 mph earlier today, the NHC said in an advisory at about 4:40 p.m. East Coast time. The storm, which will become a hurricane when its winds reach 74 mph, is traveling at 20 mph on a path that will take it to waters northeast of Puerto Rico on Sept. 4, the Miami-based center said.
“Katia could become a major hurricane by the upcoming weekend as it passes north of the Lesser Antilles,” said Brian Edwards, a meteorologist for private forecaster AccuWeather in State College, Pennsylvania.
While the storm is forecast to turn north out to sea eventually, a shift westward could bring it to land in eastern Canada, according to AccuWeather. Canada’s Atlantic region, a major gasoline refiner for the U.S. Northeast, exported 469,704 cubic meters (2.96 million barrels) of the fuel in May, according to Canada’s National Energy Board.
Katia is the 11th named storm of this Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. The NHC says the average hurricane season usually produces that many in total.
A large weather system over the northwest Caribbean has a 30 percent chance of organizing into a tropical system in the next two days, according to the hurricane center. There is “some potential” for the system to develop over the central or western Gulf of Mexico by week’s end, the center said in an advisory shortly before 2 p.m. Eastern time.
BP Plc began removing more than 500 non-essential workers from its Gulf platforms in the Southern Green Canyon area, according to a message on the company’s hurricane hot line. The London-based company said it is preparing for a potential shut- in and full evacuation if necessary.
“If that storm develops, it will likely sit in the Gulf for a couple days,” said Sean Miller, project manager for Kinetic Analysis Corp., a Silver Spring, Maryland-based firm that predicts the effects of disasters. “Right now the models are pretty divergent as to where it will make landfall, but it will probably be somewhere in southern Texas.”
The Gulf is home to 31 percent of U.S. oil output and 7 percent of natural gas production.
In the Pacific, a tropical depression northwest of Lazaro Cardenas, Mexico, was “weakening rapidly,” according to a hurricane center advisory issued before 5 p.m. East Coast time. The government of Mexico discontinued a tropical storm watch for an area from Zihuatanejo to Punta San Telmo.
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