Tropical Storm Ingrid weakens in open Atlantic

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MIAMI, Sept 15 (Reuters) Tropical Storm Ingrid, the ninth named storm of the 2007 hurricane season, weakened slightly yesterday as it churned far out in the Atlantic and may dissipate in the next two days, US forecasters said.

''Some weakening is forecast and it seems likely that Ingrid will diminish to (tropical) depression strength in the next couple of days ... and possibly dissipate in that time,'' the US National Hurricane Center said in an advisory late yesterday.

The storm had top sustained winds of 65 kph and was in an ''area of upper-level winds that are unfavorable for development,'' the hurricane center said.

The center of Tropical Storm Ingrid was about 1,050 km east of the Lesser Antilles.

The 2007 Atlantic hurricane season, however, has already sprung a few surprises.

On Thursday, Hurricane Humberto slammed into theTexas-Louisiana border area with an unexpectedly powerful punch that killed at least one person, shut down three refineries and cut power to more than 100,000 customers.

It had been forecast to hit land as a tropical storm, but strengthened into an 137-kph hurricane, a pace that forecasters said was the fastest on record for a storm near land.

The season has also witnessed the first time since records began in 1851 that two maximum-strength Category 5 hurricanes made landfall in the same year.

Hurricanes Dean and Felix, which both reached the top rank on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale at a frighteningly quick rate, hit Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and Central America in August and September, respectively.

REUTERS RC VC0935

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