Hurricane Katia Weakens to Category 3, Travels in Northwest Direction

Hurricane Katia weakened to a Category 3 storm as it churned over open Atlantic waters on a path expected to present no threat to U.S. land later this week, the National Hurricane Center said.

Katia, about 400 miles (645 kilometers) south of Bermuda, has maximum sustained winds of 125 miles per hour, according to the latest NHC advisory. The system is traveling northwest at 10 mph, then is expected to veer eastward away from the Mid- Atlantic states in about three days, the NHC said today.

The hurricane is forecast to cross between Bermuda and the Eastern seaboard, with meteorologists warning of dangerous surf and rip currents developing. Katia is a “major” hurricane on the five-step Saffir Simpson scale with winds above 111 mph, the NHC said, down from Category 4 status earlier today.

Parts of the eastern U.S. are still recovering from Hurricane Irene, which made landfall on Aug. 27, leaving 45 people dead from North Carolina to Maine and cutting power to 6.69 million homes and businesses. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June through November.

Tropical Storm Lee weakened to a depression yesterday after making landfall and soaking Louisiana and much of the Gulf Coast. Flooding is expected to move into the Tennessee Valley, the Appalachian mountains and New England.

Lee was near Birmingham, Alabama, with remnants of the storm moving east-northeast at 12 mph, the NHC said late last night.

Rains, Floods

“Heavy rains will continue to expand northeastward into the Tennessee Valley and southern Appalachian Mountains through Tuesday,” the center said. “These rains may cause life- threatening flash floods and mudslides.”

About 60 percent of Gulf of Mexico oil production and 44 percent of gas output at one point was shut by Lee, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement said. That equates to about 843,223 barrels of oil a day and 2.3 billion cubic feet of gas daily, the bureau said on its website.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc said yesterday it began returning some workers to its facilities in the western Gulf. The company evacuated 858 workers ahead of the storm.

Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), the largest U.S. oil company, is returning staff to some offshore platforms and has begun to restore production, spokesman David Eglinton said.

Production resumed at Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (APC)’s Nansen, Boomvang and Gunnison platforms, the operator said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Christian Schmollinger in Singapore at christian.s@bloomberg.net; Lananh Nguyen in London at lnguyen35@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alexander Kwiatkowski at akwiatkowsk2@bloomberg.net

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