Tropical Storm Katia has strengthened to a category 1 hurricane over the Atlantic Wednesday, as a separate mass of storm clouds over the Gulf of Mexico threatens to turn into a tropical cyclone.
Forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) are closely watching both storms, and say that there is a 70 percent chance that the system over the Gulf could become a tropical cyclone.
Reuters reports that the storm may develop into a cyclone within the next 48 hours, and has resulted in the evacuation of oil workers from the Gulf of Mexico.
“Interests along the entire northern Gulf of Mexico coast should monitor the progress of the disturbance,” forecasters said of potential Tropical Storm Lee.
It cannot be determined at this stage whether Katia will threaten the East Coast so soon after Irene.
Katia, this season’s second Atlantic hurricane, could develop into a “major” storm north and east of Puerto Rico by this weekend, the NHC reported via Bloomberg. The Miami-based center said winds of up to 111 mph could be reached, but that it is too early to predict whether it would threaten land.
Dennis Feltgen, a meteorologist and center spokesman, said “It’s got a lot of ocean to go. There’s no way at this point to say if it will make any impacts, let alone when it might make them.”
He explained that forecasts are never made more than five days in advance, and said, “The information just isn’t good. The error beyond that just isn’t acceptable.”
Currently about 1,000 miles east of St. Lucia in the Caribbean, Katia has maximum winds near 75 miles per hour, and is moving west at about 20 mph, according to the NHC.
The NHC reports that they expect Katia to develop into a category 3 storm within the next 48 hours as it continues to follow a generally northwest track. The forecast path shows the storm east of the Bahamas and south of Bermuda by September 6.
AccuWeather reported that if Katia shifts westward, the forecast path shows the storm could reach eastern Canada.