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NEWS - Eugene becomes a 'major hurricane'

National Weather Service tracking shows Hurricane Eugene in the open Pacific, about 580 miles south-southwest of the southern tip of Baja California on Tuesday night. (National Weather Service National Hurricane Center / August 2, 2011)

By Megan Garvey Los Angeles Times Staff Writer - August 2, 2011, 10:22 p.m.

Eugene becomes a 'major hurricane' off Baja California  As the hurricane produces sustained winds of 115 mph, but little threat to land, forecasters are keeping a close eye on Tropical Storm Emily, which is expected to hit the Caribbean on Wed.

Hurricane Eugene, which is moving across the open Pacific off the coast of Baja California, has reached "major hurricane" status, according to an advisory issued late Tuesday by the National Weather Service.

The storm is producing sustained winds of 115 mph but remains far from land and has generated no warnings or watches for coastal areas. Weather officials report that the hurricane will "remain no threat to land" over the next couple of days.

It is considered to be a Category 3 hurricane, which is capable of causing widespread damage. By Thursday, however, officials said that Hurricane Eugene is expected to move over cooler waters and weaken.

Forecasters also are keeping a close eye on Tropical Storm Emily, which is now expected to reach Hispaniola, the mountainous Caribbean island that contains Haiti and the Dominican Republic, by Wednesday.

Late Tuesday, authorities in the Bahamas joined other Caribbean nations in issuing a tropical storm warning for the southeast Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos.

A warning already was in effect for Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The U.S. Virgin Islands was under a tropical storm watch.

Much of Florida appeared to have escaped the direct path of the storm, which has been erratic. By the time it hits Florida later this week, forecasters now believe it will be relatively mild.

Meteorologist Robert Molleda, however, cautioned that the forecast could easily change.

"It's hurricane season in a hurricane zone," he told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "This is the game we play every year."

Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times

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