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Earl threatens hurricane status as Danielle weakens

August 29, 2010

Tropical Storm Earl barreled towards the eastern fringe of the Caribbean on Saturday, threatening to gain hurricane status, as Category Two storm Danielle weakened far from land in the Atlantic.

At 1200 GMT, Earl was 800 miles (1290 kilometers) east of the Northern Leeward Islands, and headed west-northwest at around 21 miles (33 kilometer) per hour, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said.

The storm was packing sustained winds of 60 miles (95 kilometers) per hour, with higher gusts, the Center said, warning Earl could become a hurricane by Saturday night or Sunday.

A tropical storm watch was already in effect for Saint Martin, Antigua, Barbuda, Montserrat, St. Kitts, Anguilla and several other eastern Caribbean islands.

Meanwhile, east of Bermuda, Hurricane Danielle weakened to a Category Two storm and headed north-northeast, far from land, forecasters said.

The weather system was still producing sustained winds of 110 miles (175 kilometers) per hour, the NHC said, but "little change in strength is forecast during the next 24 hours, and gradual weakening is expected to begin on Sunday night."

Danielle was a Category Four storm on Friday, but its passage has tracked far away from land. Still, the NHC warned that tropical storm-force winds could hit Bermuda later Saturday and that Danielle would produce dangerous waves.

"Swells from Danielle will begin to arrive on the east coast of the United States later today. These swells are likely to cause dangerous rip currents through the weekend."

Forecasters were also closely watching a low pressure system "associated with a vigorous tropical wave" that was located about 250 miles (400 kilometers) southwest of the Cape Verde islands.

"Although this system has changed little in organization during the last several hours, environmental conditions remain favorable for a tropical depression to form during the next couple of days," the Center said.

Forecasters said there was an 80 percent chance the system would form a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours.

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