Meteorologists: Katia Likely to Miss US

With the US still reeling from the blow dealt by Irene, meteorologists are cautiously optimistic tropical storm Katia will avoid the US

Gabe Kahn. ,

Tropical Storm Katia
Tropical Storm Katia

As US President Barak Obama tours storm-struck New Jersey, and many eastern seaboard states remain disaster zones and in a state of emergency following hurricane Irene, meteorologists are cautiously saying the next tropical storm of the season will miss the US coastline.

Katia weakened to a Category 3 hurricane early Tuesday, but it still churned in the Atlantic Ocean and threatened to unleash dangerous swells, heavy surf and rip currents, forecasters said.

As of 11 a.m. Tuesday, Katia was about 370 miles (600 kilometers) south of Bermuda and packed maximum sustained winds of 120 mph (195 kph), according to the Miami-based National Hurricane Center. It was moving northwest at about 9 mph (15 kph).

The Bermuda Weather Service issued a tropical storm watch for the island, with tropical storm conditions possible within 48 hours. Up to 2 inches of rain could fall across Bermuda, the Hurricane Center said.

The storm, however, is expected to avoid the United States. It is anticipated that the front moving the remnants of Tropical Depression Lee up the East Coast is actually going to help keep Katia offshore.

"Eventually the hurricane is going to turn towards the north and northeast away from the U.S. coast. We are becoming more confident of that," said Todd Kimberlain, a forecaster at the National Hurricane Center.

"There might be 10- to 12-foot breakers," Kimberlain said. "These swells will affect much of the eastern seaboard of the United States and then down into the Bahamas."

Besides the US East Coast, the swells are expected to affect Bermuda and the Greater Antilles, along with east-facing Bahamas beaches, the Hurricane Center said.

Some fluctuations in Katia's strength are expected within the next 24 hours, followed by slow weakening, forecasters said.