Dispatches VIDEO: Another menace lurks
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VIDEO: Another menace lurks

As the U.S. East Coast recovers from Hurricane Irene, National Hurricane Center forecasters already are tracking another threat – Tropical Storm Katia – in the Central Atlantic 985 miles west of the southernmost Cape Verde Islands.

Katia was moving west-northwest at 21 mph with sustained winds of 65 mph. In its 5 a.m. advisory today, the hurricane center expected the storm to strengthen during the next 48 hours and said it could reach hurricane strength later today. The center’s forecasters say it’s too early to try to predict where the storm will go.

Jeff Masters, director of meteorology at the website Weather Underground (www.wunderground.com), agrees that it’s premature to forecast a track, but says the storm looks as it if could pass north of the Lesser Antilles in five to six days. Beyond that, computer projections vary widely, from a sharp turn north up the Atlantic to a northwesterly arc that would take the storm toward the southeast United States, the Mid-Atlantic states or New England.

Click play to watch Irene’s surge through Jamestown, R.I., during the worst of the storm in that area.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that the insurance industry is estimating the damage from Irene at $7 billion to $10 billion because of the large swath of pricey East Coast real estate it blew through.

That would make it one of the 10 costliest catastrophes in U.S. history. The costliest remains 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, which topped out at more than $133 billion in damage and 1,833 deaths.

Rivers in New England still were cresting today as a result of the heavy and extended rainfall that accompanied Irene. The Connecticut River was expected to crest at about 15.5 feet this morning, 7.5 feet above flood stage and the highest since 1987.

In New Jersey, the Passaic River crested at 24.12 feet at Pine Brook early on Tuesday, breaking the record of 23.20 feet that was set in 1903.

Masters notes that the most active part of the hurricane season is still to come in September and October. NOAA predicts 19 named storms, 10 of them hurricanes, this year. Katia is the 11th named storm of the season.

Masters says we could see nearly as many storms as in 2005, when 28 developed. He predicts that we’ll see 25 this year.


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