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Hurricane Humberto: First hurricane of 2013 season

Hurricane Humberto gathered strength in the Atlantic Ocean near the coast of Africa. Hurricane Humberto winds are expected to hit 85 m.p.h. before the storm starts to weaken.

By Josh BallAssociated Press / September 11, 2013


Miami and Hamilton, Bermuda

Humberto strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane far out in the Atlantic early Wednesday, becoming the first hurricane of the Atlantic season.

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Humberto's maximum sustained winds were near 75 mph (120 kph). The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the hurricane could gain more strength - with winds reaching 85 m.p.h. before a weakening trend likely starts Thursday.

Humberto was centered about 310 miles (500 kilometers) west-northwest of the southernmost Cape Verde Islands and is moving north-northwest near 8 mph (13 kph).

It is unusual for this much time to pass in the Atlantic season without a hurricane forming, though not unheard of. Hurricane Gustav was the first of the 2002 season when it formed on Sept. 11 of that year. The record for the latest first-of-the-season hurricane is Oct. 8, 1905, based on records dating to 1851.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Gabrielle  was weakening as it moved away from Bermuda after hitting the wealthy British territory with wind, rain and rough surf. Gabrielle's maximum sustained winds decreased to near 50 mph (85 kph).

A tropical storm warning issued for Bermuda was discontinued Wednesday morning.

Bermuda government authorities had urged people in the storm-hardened Atlantic territory to finish last-minute preparations, and some residents left work early Tuesday. Customers crowded into supermarkets to buy candles, batteries and other emergency supplies.

The territory suspended ferry service Tuesday afternoon as wind and rain picked up, and officials announced that schools would be closed Wednesday. Airline flights were cancelled Tuesday.

British visitors Tom and Laura Palmer said they were stuck in Bermuda until Thursday because British Airways cancelled inbound and outbound flights to the island until the stormy weather cleared.

"We don't mind staying a few more days despite the weather," said Tom Palmer, a resident of Crawley, England. British Airways "are paying, so we're fine."

Local painter Coolridge Eve said he was mostly unconcerned about the storm but he had earlier checked a shark oil-based barometer that Bermudians traditionally use to gauge rough weather.

"I looked at my shark oil this morning; it told me something was brewing up. How close it is, I don't really know, but I'm ready," Eve said.

Bermuda, an offshore financial haven and tourist destination, has strong building codes and residents are accustomed to storms.

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