In the aftermath of devastating Hurricane Irene, while Vermont still battles flood waters and millions along the U.S. East Coast pick up, Tropical Storm Katia has formed and is slowly strengthening as it moves across the Atlantic, expected to soon become Hurricane Katia.
Early forecast models show Hurricane Katia is not expected to hit the U.S., while perhaps striking in the Caribbean, but some experts say it's far too early to know. Ruling out a strike on the U.S. from Hurricane Katia at this point would be a mistake, according to Weather Underground found Dr. Jeff Masters.
He said in daily commentary that uncertainty is prominent in the storm's forecast. Models do not suggest that Florida is in the picture, but anything could happen from among many possible scenarios.
The storm had maximum sustained winds late Tuesday morning near 45 miles per hour, and the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said gradual strengthening is forecast. Katia is expected to be near hurricane strength by late Wednesday or early Thursday, as the second official hurricane of the 2011 Atlantic season.
Forecasts show Katia could become a major hurricane by the weekend.
On Tuesday, Katia was centered about 630 miles west-southwest of the southernmost Cape Verde Islands, moving west-northwest at 18 miles per hour. Another hurricane specialist said Katia could impact the Caribbean, but it's too early to tell if the storm will become the second to hit the U.S. this season after Hurricane Irene.
Katia's storm name replaces Katrina in the rotating storm roster because of the catastrophic damage from the 2005 storm which ravaged the U.S. Gulf Coast, causing catastrophic flooding in New Orleans and virtually destroying the Mississippi coastline.