August 23, 2006

Tropical Storm Debby strengthens slightly

MIAMI (Reuters) - Debby, the fourth tropical storm of the
2006 Atlantic hurricane season, strengthened slightly
overnight, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said on

In its latest advisory, the Miami-based hurricane center
said Debby had maximum sustained winds near 45 mph (75 kph) and
was about 385 miles west-northwest of the southernmost Cape
Verde islands.

It was moving toward the west-northwest near 16 mph (26
kph) and some more strengthening was forecast during the next
24 hours.

Debby strengthened from a tropical depression into a
tropical storm late on Tuesday when sustained winds reached 39
mph (63 kph).

The hurricane center said earlier that top winds could hit
74 mph (119 kph), the threshold for hurricane status, in four

The most likely long-range track had the storm moving over
the open Atlantic Ocean for the next five days in the direction
of Bermuda, a British territory 560 miles off the coast of
North Carolina.

On that track it would not threaten the oil-producing U.S.
Gulf Coast, where the record-breaking 2005 hurricane season
caused havoc, or the Southeastern U.S. states.

The current season has been quiet so far, with only three
tropical storms -- Alberto, Beryl and Chris. The Atlantic
hurricane season officially runs from June 1 to November 30.

Last year produced a record 28 tropical storms and
hurricanes. Katrina devastated New Orleans and killed more than
1,300 people along the Gulf coast.

U.S. hurricane forecasters had warned the season could
become more active in the near future. The period from
mid-August to late October is usually the busiest.