Tropical Storm Bret strengthens, moves out to sea

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 18, 2011 6:03 PM
Tropical Storm Bret strengthens, moves out to sea

MIAMI (Reuters) - Tropical Storm Bret strengthened as it moved away from the Bahamas on Monday and forecasters said it could approach hurricane strength over the open Atlantic, where it posed no further threat to land.

All watches and warnings for the Bahamas were dropped, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

There were no reports of damage or disruption as the second tropical storm of the Atlantic-Caribbean hurricane season passed north of Grand Bahama Island and the Abaco Islands of the northern Bahamas on Monday. Forecasters said rainfall and rough surf on those islands would diminish overnight.

Bret's top sustained winds strengthened to 65 miles per hour (100 km per hour), up from 50 mph on Monday.

"Some additional strengthening is possible overnight and Bret could approach hurricane strength by early Tuesday," the hurricane center forecasters said.

If its top winds reach 74 mph, Bret would become the first hurricane of the Atlantic-Caribbean storm season that runs from June 1 to November 30.

But the storm was moving north-northeast away from the Bahamas and was forecast to turn more to the northeast on a course that would keep it over open water well north of Bermuda. It was expected to weaken by Saturday as it reached cooler water.

(Reporting by Jane Sutton in Miami and Neil Hartnell in Nassau; Editing by Eric Beech)