* Igor could become Category 5 storm on Monday
* No immediate threat to land or energy interests
* Tropical Storm Julia moves over eastern Atlantic
(Updates storm positions, adds comment)
MIAMI, Sept 13 Powerful Hurricane Igor churned
westward in the Atlantic Ocean as a dangerous Category 4 storm
and could strengthen even further on Monday, forecasters said.
Igor was strong enough to cause catastrophic damage but
posed no immediate threat to land or energy interests. It was
too soon to rule out an impact on the U.S. East Coast, but the
chances of such a landfall were viewed as slim.
The major hurricane had top sustained winds of 150 miles
(240 km) per hour and could turn to a Category 5 storm on the
five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity,
forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
All the computer models keep Igor in the Atlantic and away
from the Gulf of Mexico, where U.S. oil and gas operations are
Behind Igor, Tropical Storm Julia developed over the far
eastern Atlantic Ocean on Sunday, becoming the 10th named storm
of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season.
Igor, the fourth hurricane of the 2010 Atlantic season, was
centered 880 miles (1,420 km) east of the Caribbean's northern
Leeward Islands at 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT), the Miami-based
Latest news on hurricanes: link.reuters.com/jah92p
National Hurricane Center: www.nhc.noaa.gov/
Link to weather models: www.skeetobiteweather.com/
Igor seemed to be nearing its peak intensity but it
wouldn't take much to boost it into the highest level of a
Category 5 storm, with winds topping 155 mph (249 kph), the
Igor was moving west and was expected to turn
west-northwest by Tuesday. Computer models disagreed on how
sharp a turn Igor would take, said Michael Brennan, a senior
hurricane specialist at the hurricane center.
A west-northwest track would take it near Bermuda on
Saturday but a sharper northerly turn would keep it over the
"Bermuda's probably at the greatest risk of seeing an
impact from Igor but it's too soon to say whether it would
approach the (U.S.) East Coast," Brennan said.
So far this year, the atmospheric conditions that steer
hurricanes in the western Atlantic have cooperated to push them
away from the densely populated U.S. coast.
Gaps have opened in the subtropical ridge, allowing the
storms to move north, while a series of troughs rolled eastward
off the U.S. coast, making the storms curve away. But there was
no guarantee that pattern would last until the six-month
hurricane season ends on Nov. 30, forecasters said.
"It's pretty much a matter of timing," Brennan said. "It's
something that evolves day to day."
Tropical Storm Julia also posed no immediate threat to
land. It was 115 miles (185 km) west of the Cape Verde Islands
and was moving west-northwest away from those islands.
Julia had top sustained winds of 40 miles (65 km) per hour
and could strengthen into a hurricane in a couple of days, the
hurricane center said.
Most forecasters predicted the 2010 Atlantic hurricane
season would be extremely active. Besides Igor, three
hurricanes -- Alex, Danielle and Earl -- formed earlier in the
season, the last two reaching Category 4 strength.
(Reporting by Tom Brown and Jane Sutton; Editing by Pascal
Fletcher and Philip Barbara)