September 21, 2011 â€“ MIAMI - Tropical Storm Ophelia has strengthened as it moved across the Atlantic Ocean, the National Hurricane Center said Wednesday. In its 11 a.m. update, the hurricane center said Opheliaâ€™s maximum sustained winds are now at 60 mph. The storm was about 1,245 miles east of the Leeward Island and moving west at 16 mph. No coastal watches or warnings are in effect, forecasters said, and Ophelia was expected to lose some strength during the next 48 hours. [Update 5:10 a.m. ET] Tropical Storm Ophelia has formed over the Atlantic Ocean, the National Hurricane Center said early Wednesday. At 5 a.m. ET, Ophelia had maximum sustained winds of 45 mph and was about 1,370 miles east of the Leeward Islands. The storm was moving west at near 13 mph. Gradual strengthening is expected over the next day or so, the National Hurricane Center said.
Few things about this hurricane system have been typical even if the number of category 5 hurricanes has been few and far between. Asia has been hammered by a string of cyclones that have rarely missed inland areas even in the midst of one of the wettest monsoon seasons on record. Storms in the Atlantic have likewise been mercurial, holding hurricane-watchers in suspense, even though most have steered clear of the U.S. mainland. Last night, a low-pressure system over the Atlantic morphed into the full-blown Tropical Storm Ophelia despite earlier forecasts by weather watchers that the system had little chance of intensification. â€“The Extinction Protocol