Irene poised to become hurricane
This satellite image shows Tropical Storm Irene on Saturday at 12:15 a.m. ET.
(CNN) -- Tropical Storm Irene -- the ninth named storm of the 2005 hurricane season -- was packing winds just below hurricane strength late Friday, and was expected to become a hurricane Saturday, forecasters said.
As of 11 p.m. ET, the storm was about 300 miles (483 kilometers) southwest of Bermuda and about 590 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C., according to the Miami-based National Hurricane Center.
The storm had maximum sustained winds of near 70 mph, with higher gusts, and was moving toward the northwest at about 10 mph, the center said.
Irene was expected to turn toward the north-northwest on Saturday and its speed was expected to decrease.
Tropical storm-force winds, of 39 to 73 mph, extended outward up to 85 miles from the center of the storm.
Should Irene's winds intensify to exceed 73 mph, the storm would become this season's third hurricane.
Irene is forecast to turn away from U.S. coast, CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said.
Of the storm's path, he said, "I know this looks like a direct line to New York, but so far, so good. It doesn't look like that's going to happen because the westerly winds pick it up and turn it back off to the east into the ocean."
The first 10 weeks of the 2005 hurricane season -- which began June 1 -- have been especially active.
Two storms grew into powerful hurricanes: Dennis and Emily, which were blamed for more than 37 deaths.
Three of the storms made landfall in the United States -- Tropical Storm Arlene, near Pensacola, Fla., on June 11; Tropical Storm Cindy, near Grand Isle, La., on July 6; and Hurricane Dennis, near Navarre Beach, Fla., on July 10.
According to the hurricane center, the five named storms that developed in July were the most ever recorded for the month, and it was the first time since 1916 that two major hurricanes developed during July.
The seven named storms during June and July also set a record. The official hurricane season lasts until November 30.
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