Katia is new Atlantic storm, not clear if threat to US

MIAMI,  (Reuters) – The U.S. East Coast is mopping up  after Hurricane Irene’s weekend battering that killed around 40  people and authorities and residents are looking out anxiously  over the Atlantic and asking: Is another one coming?

Tropical Storm Katia is jogging west at a brisk 18 miles  per hour (30 km per hour) and the U.S. National Hurricane  Center says it is expected to become a hurricane by late  Wednesday or early Thursday.

But beyond predicting Katia will be a major hurricane  northeast of the Caribbean’s northern Leeward Islands by  Sunday, the Miami-based center says it is not possible now to  predict its path with certainty, or say whether it will  threaten the U.S. East Coast.

“It’s still well out to sea. A lot of things can happen …  We don’t show it affecting any land areas for five days. Beyond  that is merely speculation,” NHC senior hurricane specialist  Richard Pasch told Reuters.

Nevertheless, he recommended that the U.S. East Coast and  the Caribbean should “keep an eye” on Katia.

At 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT), Katia was about 630 miles (1,010  km) west southwest of the southernmost Cape Verde Islands,  still far out to the east in the Atlantic.

Some private forecasters were citing long-range models  beyond five days, some of which show Katia swinging over  Bermuda toward Canada and avoiding the U.S. coast. But Pasch  cautioned such long-range predictions were unreliable and  contained errors of “hundreds of miles” in the envisaged  track.

can look at what the long range forecasts did with  Irene, taking it across Miami, which of course didn’t happen,”  he said, stressing that even the NHC’s five-day forecast “cone”  had an average margin of error of about 250 miles (400 km).

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