Hurricane Frances gains strength in Atlantic

Friday, August 27th 2004, 8:42 am
By: News On 6

MIAMI (AP) _ Hurricane Frances grew into a Category 2 storm Friday in the Atlantic, but was not expected to threaten land in the near future.

Frances had maximum sustained winds near 105 mph and was expected to get stronger over the day and could become a Category 3 storm, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

At 11 a.m EDT, the hurricane was centered about 820 miles east of the Lesser Antilles in the southeastern Caribbean and was moving west-northwest near 10 mph, forecasters said.

``It appears now that its going to pass well north of the islands,'' said Lixion Avila, a hurricane specialist. But he said residents in the Caribbean should monitor the hurricane, because the long-term forecast could change.

A storm becomes a hurricane when wind speed reaches 74 mph. Category 1 hurricanes have maximum sustained wind speeds up to 95 mph; Category 2 storms have wind of 96 to 110 mph.

Frances is the sixth named storm of the 2004 Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.