Natural gas prices established a higher high during the initial morning hours, helped by an increase in Atlantic storm activity. Hurricane Irene has strengthened to Category 2 status and is expected to make US landfall as early as Friday morning. While the storm offers little direct threat to Gulf of Mexico natural gas operations, it serves as a reminder of peak hurricane season ahead. The National Hurricane Center is tracking two low-pressure systems off the western coast of Africa, each of them having a 20% of developing into a something more significant.