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Tropical Storm Debby heads west over Atlantic

Written by: Staff
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MIAMI, Aug 24 (Reuters) Debby, the fourth tropical storm of the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season, became better organized as it moved over the Atlantic Ocean far from land and could gain strength in the next 24 hours, the US National Hurricane Center said.

Debby had maximum sustained winds near 75 kph, and was about 1,175 km west-northwest of the Cape Verde Islands at 11 p.m. 08.30 IST, the Miami-based hurricane center said.

It was moving west-northwest near 30 kph.

Some slight strengthening was possible today and forecasters said Debby could become a weak hurricane as it moved over warmer waters, the fuel it needs to gain power, as it headed in the general direction of the British mid-Atlantic territory of Bermuda.

Debby strengthened from a tropical depression into a tropical storm late on Tuesday when sustained winds reached 63 kph.

The hurricane center said Debby could become the season's first hurricane by Sunday, when its top winds were projected to reach 119 kph, the threshold for hurricane status.

Its most likely long-range track took the storm well to the east of Bermuda, where it would not threaten the Southeastern United States or the oil-producing US Gulf Coast, battered by the record-breaking 2005 hurricane season.

The current June 1 to November 30 Atlantic hurricane season has been quiet to date, with only three tropical storms.

Last year produced a record 28 tropical storms and hurricanes.

Katrina devastated New Orleans and killed about 1,500 people along the Gulf coast, according to the latest estimate by the hurricane center.

The busiest period of a hurricane season is usually between mid-August and late October.

REUTERS BDP BD1010

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