Igor packs a powerful punch

Powerful Hurricane Igor churned westward in
the Atlantic Ocean as a dangerous Category 4 storm and could strengthen even
further, forecasters said.

Igor was strong enough to cause
catastrophic damage but posed no immediate threat to land or energy interests.
It was too soon to rule out an impact on the U.S. East Coast, but the chances
of such a landfall were viewed as slim.

The major hurricane had top sustained winds of 150
miles per hour and could turn to a Category 5 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson
scale of hurricane intensity, forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center
said.

Igor seemed to be nearing its peak
intensity but it wouldn’t take much to boost it into the highest level of a
Category 5 storm, with winds topping 155 mph, the forecasters said.

Igor was moving west and was
expected to turn west-northwest by Tuesday. Computer models disagreed on how
sharp a turn Igor would take, said Michael Brennan, a senior hurricane
specialist at the hurricane center.

A west-northwest track would take
it near Bermuda on Saturday but a sharper northerly turn would keep it over the
open Atlantic.

“Bermuda’s probably at the
greatest risk of seeing an impact from Igor but it’s too soon to say whether it
would approach the (U.S.) East Coast,” Brennan said.

So far this year, the atmospheric
conditions that steer hurricanes in the western Atlantic have cooperated to
push them away from the densely populated U.S. coast.

Gaps have opened in the subtropical
ridge, allowing the storms to move north, while a series of troughs rolled
eastward off the U.S. coast, making the storms curve away. But there was no
guarantee that pattern would last until the six-month hurricane season ends on 30
November, forecasters said.

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