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Tropical Storm Isaac forms in Atlantic

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MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- Tropical Storm Isaac formed Thursday in the central Atlantic, but forecasters don't expect it to be a threat to land.

The latest forecast showed Isaac turning north by Friday and then northeast, out into the north Atlantic, without reaching hurricane strength.

However, because of the erratic nature of hurricanes, the accuracy of such long-range forecasts can vary widely.

At 11 a.m. ET, the storm was centered about 665 miles (1,070 kilometers) east-southeast of Bermuda, heading northwest at about 8 mph (13 kph), with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph), according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

The storm was expected to pick up strength in the next 24 hours, the center said.

The hurricane season's busiest month draws to a close Saturday, with the mainland United States brushed by three tropical storms but no full-fledged hurricane -- a respite after the death and destruction of the last two years.

So far in 2006, nine systems have reached tropical storm status, with maximum sustained winds of at least 39 mph (63 kph).

In 2005, there were 17 named storms by the end of September.

Four of this year's tropical storms strengthened into hurricanes, with winds reaching at least 74 mph (119 kph). Last year by this time, there were seven.

September is historically the busiest month for tropical activity, followed by August and then October, according to statistics from the hurricane center.

Four systems have taken roughly the same path as Isaac is forecast to take -- forming in the central Atlantic between Africa and the Lesser Antilles, heading northwest before curving to the northeast and dissipating in the north Atlantic.

The areas previously affected were Bermuda, which was brushed by Hurricane Florence, and the Azores, which was hit by Hurricane Gordon. There was no serious damage in either place.

Hurricane Ernesto took a different path, hitting Haiti on September 11.


A satellite image shows the tropical depression over the central Atlantic at 6:45 a.m. ET Thursday.



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