Hurricane Ophelia weakens en route to Newfoundland

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 02, 2011 11:48 AM

MIAMI (Reuters) - Hurricane Ophelia weakened to a Category 2 storm on Sunday as it bore down on Newfoundland off the east coast of Canada, forecasters said.

Ophelia, which had earlier strengthened to become the third major hurricane of the 2011 Atlantic season, was still expected to be near hurricane strength when it passed near or over the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland early on Monday.

But its top sustained winds decreased to 110 miles per hour on Sunday morning, making it a Category 2 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

That was down from sustained wind speeds near 133 miles per hour, when Ophelia swept east of Bermuda on Saturday.

The hurricane whipped up showers, thunderstorms and surf on the British overseas territory but had no major impact.

A tropical storm watch was in place for the Avalon Peninsula, but the Miami-based hurricane center said Ophelia was expected to undergo steady weakening through Monday.

Meanwhile, in the mid-Atlantic, Tropical Storm Philippe also weakened considerably on Sunday as it churned on a west-northwest track about 890 miles east-southeast of Bermuda.

The hurricane center said Philippe, which posed no immediate risk to land, had seen its top sustained winds drop to 50 miles an hour after revving up to near hurricane force overnight.

Forecasters expect Philippe to swing north later this week on a predicted track that will keep it away from the U.S. east coast.

(Writing by Tom Brown; editing by Jackie Frank)