Katia weakens to tropical storm in open Atlantic

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 03, 2011 5:28 PM
Katia weakens to tropical storm in open Atlantic

MIAMI (Reuters) - Hurricane Katia weakened to a tropical storm on Saturday and was forecast to wobble back and forth between hurricane and tropical storm strength far from land in the open Atlantic, forecasters said.

With top winds of 70 miles per hour, Katia was just under the 74 miles per hour threshold for a hurricane at 5 p.m. EDT, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center said.

It was the second time that strong winds in the upper atmosphere disrupted Katia's circulation and knocked it down from a hurricane to a tropical storm, and the fluctuations were expected to continue.

"Katia could re-strengthen back to a hurricane at any time," the forecasters said.

Katia did not threaten land and was out in the Atlantic, about 430 miles east-northeast of the Leeward Islands. It was moving west-northwest on a path that would take it safely west of the mid-Atlantic island of Bermuda on Thursday.

Computer models showed it turning north after that and then northeast and away from the East Coast.

(Reporting by Jane Sutton; Editing by Peter Cooney)