* Igor could become Category 5 storm on Monday
* No immediate threat to land or energy interests
* Tropical Storm Julia moves over eastern Atlantic
MIAMI (Reuters) - Hurricane Igor churned westward
in the Atlantic Ocean as a dangerous Category Four storm and
could strengthen even further Monday, forecasters said.
Igor, capable of causing catastrophic damage, posed no
immediate threat to land or energy interests.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Igor packed maximum
sustained winds of 150 miles per hour and Monday
could turn into a Category Five storm on the five-step
Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity.
Behind Igor, Tropical Storm Julia developed over the far
eastern Atlantic Ocean Sunday, becoming the 10th named storm
of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season.
Igor, the fourth hurricane of the 2010 Atlantic season, was
located about 940 miles east of the Caribbean's
northern Leeward Islands at 5 a.m. EDT, the
Miami-based center said. Hurricane force winds extended outward
up to 40 miles from the center and tropical storm force
winds reached out up to 175 miles, it said.
Igor is moving west and is expected to turn toward the
west-northwest and slow its pace by late Monday or Tuesday.
"Some fluctuation in intensity is likely during the next 48
hours and Igor could become a Category Five hurricane today
(Monday)," the center said.
A Category Five hurricane has sustained winds topping 155
Computer models project Igor would stay in the Atlantic for
the coming days and not enter the Gulf of Mexico, where U.S.
oil and gas operations are clustered.
Veteran forecaster Jeff Masters said Sunday on his
Weather Underground blog (www.wunderground.com) that Igor may
threaten Bermuda but had only a small chance of making landfall
on the U.S. East Coast or in Canada.
Masters and other forecasters said it was still too early
to make any definitive predictions about Igor's long-term
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Julia also posed no immediate
threat to land and was heading in a westerly direction as it
swirled off the Cape Verde islands. It packed top sustained
winds of 40 miles per hour, the hurricane center said.
"Some strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours
and Julia could become a hurricane in a couple of days," the
At 5 a.m. EDT, Julia was located about 30 miles
south-southwest of the Cape Verde Islands.
Most forecasters predicted the 2010 Atlantic hurricane
season to be extremely active. Besides Igor, three hurricanes
-- Alex, Danielle and Earl -- formed earlier in the season, the
last two reaching Category 4 strength.
The hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30 and
is currently in its peak period.
(Reporting by Tom Brown; Editing by Will Dunham)
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