Hurricane Fred churns the Atlantic

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hurricane Fred, currently a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, is spinning harmlessly in the eastern Atlantic Ocean.

The National Hurricane Center first designated the storm Tropical Depression Seven on Monday, September 7. Fred reached Category 3 major hurricane status for a time, but has since weakened slightly.

The storm, situated about 645 miles (1040 km) west of the Cape Verde islands, is likely to dissipate before threatening any land areas, forecasters say. Fred currently has winds of 105 miles per hour (165 km/h) and is moving towards the northwest.

5-day forecast map of Fred
Image: National Hurricane Center.

Fred is the strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded so far south and east in the Atlantic since the advent of satellite imagery, and only the third major hurricane on record east of 35°W.

September 10 is the climatological peak of hurricane season, and so far, predictions that expected average to below-average activity have held true. Forecasters attribute the relatively low number of storms in the Atlantic to El Niño. However, "Hurricanes can and do strike during El Niño, and we are now in the peak of the hurricane season", said Gerry Bell, a hurricane specialist.