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Hurricane Ophelia weakens further, barrels toward Newfoundland

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 9:28 PM EDT, Sun October 2, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Ophelia is now a Category 1 storm, after its winds weaken further
  • NEW: The hurricane has maximum sustained winds of 90 mph
  • NEW: It is expected to still be a hurricane when it passes by Newfoundland
  • The fast-moving storm is heading north-northeast at 33 mph

(CNN) -- A weakened Hurricane Ophelia spun well off the coast of New England on Sunday night, appearing to pose no danger to the U.S. mainland but prompting threats to Newfoundland as it headed north-northeast.

In its 8 p.m. advisory, the National Hurricane Center characterized Ophelia as Category 1 -- down one notch from just a few hours earlier, and representing a sharp drop from its Category 4 status on Saturday.

The new classification comes because the storm's maximum sustained winds had fallen to 90 mph, with hurricane-force winds (blowing more than 74 mph, by definition) extending out about 45 miles from its center. Tropical storm-force winds, measuring 39 mph or stronger, are estimated about 260 miles away.

Situated about 445 miles southwest of Cape Race in Canada, the system has prompted a tropical storm watch for the Avalon peninsula of Newfoundland. It is moving relatively quickly, at 33 mph.

Even with more steady weakening expected, Ophelia is forecast to still be at hurricane strength when it chugs past Canada's far eastern tip late Sunday night or early Monday.

A second weather system, Tropical Storm Philippe, is east-southeast of Bermuda and not threatening land, according to the hurricane center. It is predicted to take a more westerly course.

It had sustained winds of 50 mph, according to a hurricane center advisory released at 5 p.m. Sunday. At that point, its eye was about 825 miles east-southeast of Bermuda.

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