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Hurricane Katia slips into north Atlantic; Nate churns in Gulf

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Caribbean islands fall under a tropical storm watches and warnings
  • Nate is expected to become a hurricane Friday
  • Tropical Storm Maria could threaten the U.S. next Tuesday, Wednesday
  • Hurricane Katia stays far from land

Miami (CNN) -- Hurricane Katia raced into the north Atlantic early Friday, keeping a safe distance from the United States, Canada and Bermuda, but still kicking up heavy surf along their coasts.

Katia, with its 85 mph winds, is one of a trio of storms keeping forecasters busy.

At 11 p.m. ET Thursday, Katia was about midway between Long Island, New York and Bermuda, slipping off to the northeast at 20 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.

Hurricane-force winds extended up to 70 miles from the storm's center.

Katia is expected to weaken over the next 48 hours as it moves into cooler water, CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen said. It is expected to stay well south of Canada.

The fast-moving system is forecast to pass just north of the British Isles on Monday, still packing tropical-storm-force winds.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Nate meandered in the Bay of Campeche in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico early Friday, the hurricane center said.

Packing 70 mph winds, the system was centered about 110 miles west of Campeche, Mexico, and about 175 miles northeast of Coatzacoalcos, Mexico.

That storm may strengthen over the next two days, forecasters said, and Nate is expected to become a hurricane by Friday, with additional strengthening expected through Saturday.

A tropical storm warning was in effect for Mexico from Chiltepeco to Celestun, forecasters said.

Nate's tracking map shows the storm making landfall in eastern Mexico by early Monday.

Nate was forecast to dump up to 6 inches of rain over the Mexican states of Campeche, Tabasco and Southern Veracruz, with up to 12 inches possible in some isolated areas, the hurricane center said.

About 2,500 miles to the east, Maria was hanging on as a weak tropical storm with winds of 40 mph.

Tropical storm warnings were issued for Guadeloupe, St. Maartin/St. Martin, Saba and St. Eustatius.

Tropical storm watches were issued for Antigua, Anguilla, Barbuda, Montserrat, Nevis, Saint Kitts, St. Barthelemy, Martinique, Dominica, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, with forecasters saying tropical storm conditions were possible within 48 hours.

"Interests elsewhere in the Lesser Antilles, the Dominican Republic, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas should monitor the progress of Maria," the hurricane center said.

The center of Maria was about 360 miles east of the Windward Islands at 2 a.m. ET. The storm was speeding west at 21 mph.

"On the forecast track, the center of Maria will reach the Leeward Islands early Saturday and be near the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico by Saturday night," the forecast said.

Tropical storm-force winds extended about 175 miles to the north and east of Maria's center.

The hurricane center tracking map shows Maria following the northern edge of the Caribbean and the Bahamas, possibly approaching the southeastern United States by midweek.