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Hurricane Gordon, storm Helene churn over Atlantic

Written by: Staff
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WASHINGTON, Sep 14 (Reuters) Hurricane Gordon, now a powerful Category three storm, swirled through the Atlantic Ocean but posed no threat to land, while Tropical Storm Helene churned westward from Africa, forecasters said today.

Gordon's maximum sustained winds remained at 195 km per hour, the Miami-based US National Hurricane Center said.

Neither of the season's first two hurricanes, Ernesto and Florence, reached that strength.

Gordon was about 885 km east-southeast of Bermuda at 5:00 a.m.

(14:30 IST) and was moving north-northeast at 13 mph (20 kph), the hurricane center said.

It was expected to weaken gradually in the next 24 hours and was on a path that would take it well east of the mid-Atlantic British territory, which was raked by Hurricane Florence on Monday.

Tropical Storm Helene, which became the eighth named storm of the year, was carrying maximum sustained winds of 65 kph, but was expected to strengthen in the next 24 hours. It was located about 1115 km west of the southernmost Cape Verde Islands and moving to the west about 35 km per hour, the center said.

Helene was expected to gradually turn to the west-northwest but was not expected to pose a threat to any land area for days, forecasters said.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said on Wednesday that ''El Nino'' conditions had developed in the eastern Pacific, which tend to dampen hurricane activity in the Atlantic Ocean.

El Nino is a warming of waters in the eastern Pacific, which affects upper-level winds. That in turn strengthens wind shear -- a change of wind speed or direction at different altitudes -- over the Atlantic, which disrupts the formation of Atlantic hurricanes.

The development of the El Nino warm-water phenomenon helps explain why the Atlantic hurricane season has been less active than forecasters had expected, NOAA said.

The June 1 to November 30 season has produced only seven tropical storms and hurricanes. Last year saw a record-breaking 28 tropical storms, of which 15 became hurricanes.

REUTERS BDP BD1521

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