Tracking the Tropics

Aug 30, 2011 11:57 AM by AP

Tropical Storm Katia strengthens in the Atlantic

MIAMI (AP) - Tropical Storm Katia has formed and is slowly strengthening as it moves across the Atlantic.

Katia has maximum sustained winds late Tuesday morning near 45 mph (72 kph). The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says gradual strengthening is forecast and Katia is expected to be near hurricane strength by late Wednesday or early Thursday.

The storm's forecast track shows it could become a major hurricane over the weekend.

Katia is centered about 630 miles (1014 kilometers) west-southwest of the southernmost Cape Verde Islands and is moving west-northwest at 18 mph (29 kph). Hurricane specialist Michael Brennan says Katia could affect the Caribbean, but it's too early to tell if it will hit the U.S.

The storm's name replaces Katrina in the rotating storm roster because of the catastrophic damage from the 2005 storm.

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