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Hurricane forecasters following three tropical systems in Atlantic

As forecasters follow a strengthening tropical storm and major hurricane in the open Atlantic, a third system is expected develop into a tropical depression off the coast of Africa in the next two days.

None of the systems appear to pose a threat to land.

"This is the most active we've been during this year's season," said Bay News 9 meteorologist Juli Marquez.

That's to be expected, she said.

Hurricane season peaks Sept. 10, Marquez said, and activity typically picks up beginning in mid-August.

"This could be an indicator of the season becoming more active as forecast," said National Weather Service meteorologist Rick Davis.

Earlier this month, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the season is still expected to be more active than usual.

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center predicted 14 to 20 named storms, eight to 12 hurricanes and three to six major hurricanes (with winds of at least 111 mph).

All three systems developed off the west coast of Africa, Davis said. This signals the start of the Cape Verde season, when hurricanes develop off Africa and head west across the Atlantic.

With storms that develop so far away, it's more likely that other systems will push or pull them north into the open Atlantic.

"There's a lot steering them away from the U.S.," Davis said.

Hurricane Danielle is expected to turn north, staying to the east of Bermuda, before moving east into the Atlantic.

Tropical Storm Earl is expected to follow a similar path behind Danielle, according to Bay News 9 meteorologists.

Earl is expected to strengthen into a hurricane by Saturday night as it moves west across the open Atlantic, according to hurricane forecasters.

The central Atlantic storm is still far away from land. Projections still showed it moving mostly to the west over the next two days, then curling northwest as it nears the Leeward Islands.

The fifth named storm of the season, it maintained its 45 mph sustained winds and direction throughout the day Thursday and early Friday. Its foreword speed stayed constant around 17 mph.

Tropical force winds extend 85 miles from Earl's center.

Another system forming off the Cape Verde Islands was expected to become a tropical depression. Forecasters said there was a 60 percent chance the system could become a tropical cyclone in the next two days.

Also in the open Atlantic, Hurricane Danielle strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane with sustained gusts of 135 mph. Category 4 hurricanes have winds between 131 and 155 mph.

Projections don't show it coming near North America.

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Hurricane forecasters following three tropical systems in Atlantic 08/27/10 [Last modified: Friday, August 27, 2010 1:01pm]
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