Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hurricane Bill weakens to Category 3 storm

Hurricane Bill weakened to a Category 3 storm early Thursday morning as it continued to churn in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on a track headed for Atlantic Canada.

Although the storm weakened slightly overnight, forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center warned that Bill could very likely regain strength and become a dangerous Category 4 hurricane again by Friday.

Hurricanes are categorized on the Saffir-Simpson scale from one to five, indicating the storm's intensity at a given time.

The hurricane's sustained winds were clocked at 201 km/h early Thursday morning and it is still considered to be a major storm.

An aircraft was en route to the storm Thursday morning to collect more data.

Bill's eye was located about 525 kilometres north-northeast of the Leeward Islands and 1,270 kilometres south-southeast of Bermuda at 5 a.m. AT (4 a.m. ET) .

Large swells caused by the storm will be affecting islands in the northeast Caribbean Sea and the east coast of the United States through Saturday, the hurricane centre said.

The hurricane is moving at about 30 km/h and is projected to reach Atlantic Canada as a much weakened storm on Sunday.

Environment Canada has said that it is still too soon to predict if the storm will make landfall.

The first bulletin about Bill is expected to be released Thursday by the Canadian Hurricane Centre, which has been tracking the storm.

CBC meteorologist Peter Coade said based on Wednesday's charts, the centre of Bill will move south of Halifax on Sunday afternoon, pass between Guysborough County and Sable Island in the evening, and reach Glace Bay in Cape Breton around midnight.

Coade said the storm will likely have lost much of its power after travelling north over cooler waters off the U.S. coast.

The two other named storms of the Atlantic hurricane season, Ana and Claudette, have had little effect on mainland communities.

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