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Katia shaping up to be major hurricane, impact on US unclear

Katia is set to become a category 1 hurricane Wednesday and could be a category 3 Sunday. But the track gives little hint of whether tropical storm Katia will hit the US.

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Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami are keeping close tabs on tropical storm Katia, which could become the second hurricane of the 2011 Atlantic season before Wednesday is out.

At the moment, Katia poses no threat to land. The storm is located in the middle of the Atlantic some 1,600 miles east of the island of Grenada, on the eastern edge of the Caribbean Sea, and about 3,400 miles southeast of Bermuda.

The storm's latest projected track has it staying far away from either Bermuda or any of the Caribbean's eastern islands as of Labor Day, but still moving generally northwest toward the northern Bahamas.

Even on that track, however, any potential impacts on the Irene-battered East Coast remain uncertain. Some storms following Katia's path have affected the US East Coast, NCH forecasters note. Other storms have headed in Katia's projected path only to hook back to the north and east to wind down over open ocean.

Moreover, track forecasts this far in advance are at their least accurate, with errors of as much as 250 miles on either side of the track by the fifth day of the forecast.

Current intensity projections anticipate Katia gathering enough strength Wednesday to cross the threshold from tropical storm to category 1 hurricane. By 2 a.m. Sunday, Katia is expected to reach major-hurricane status as a category 3 storm, with maximum sustained winds at the storm's center of 115 miles per hour.

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