Source Pravda.Ru

Hurricane Frances powered up over the Atlantic waters

The National Hurricane Center has issued a tropical storm watch from Surf City, N.C., south along all of the South Carolina and Georgia coasts to Fernandina Beach, Fla., as Tropical Depression 7 threatens to grow into Tropical Storm Gaston.

The watch means that tropical storm force winds of 39 mph or faster could hit the area within 36 hours. At 5 p.m. ET, when the watch was posted, the depression's center was about 140 miles southeast of Charleston, S.C., and its strongest winds were estimated at 30 mph.

The Center said that Friday night or Saturday morning the depression should start moving closer to the coast. It's winds could also reach 39 mph tropical storm strength overnight.

Far to the southeast, Hurricane Frances grew into a 115 mph, Category 3 storm Friday morning and forecasters expect it to continue gaining strength, says USA Today.

According to Reuters, Frances, meanwhile, powered up over the warm Atlantic waters but was still many days from striking any populated land area.

At 5 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT), its center was about 800 miles east of the Leeward Islands at latitude 15.7 north and longitude 49.8 west, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

It was moving to the northwest at about 12 mph (19 kph), forecasters said.

Frances had grown quickly since it formed in mid-Atlantic and was a Category 3 hurricane on the five-stage Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity. Forecasters said it could become a Category 4 storm during the weekend.

Hurricane Charley was a Category 4 when it struck southwest Florida two weeks ago, causing an estimated $7.4 billion in damage. If that estimate holds true, Charley would be the second costliest hurricane in U.S. history.

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