Hurricane Igor picks up strength in Atlantic Ocean

MIAMI (BestGrowthStock) – Hurricane Igor gathered strength as it churned westward in the Atlantic Ocean on Sunday and appeared poised to gain even more intensity in the coming days but posed no imminent threat to land or energy interests.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Igor, the fourth hurricane of the 2010 Atlantic season, had maximum sustained winds of about 80 miles per hour, making it a Category 1 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale.

Igor reached hurricane status late on Saturday. At 5 a.m. EDT (0900 GMT), the hurricane was located about 1,230 miles east of the Leeward Islands, and was moving westward at 18 miles per hour, the hurricane center said.

“Additional strengthening is forecast and Igor could reach major hurricane strength by Monday night,” the Miami-based center added.

A major hurricane is one with sustained winds between 111 and 130 mph, reaching a Category 3 rating on the Saffir-Simpson scale of intensity.

Computer models projected Igor would stay in the Atlantic for the coming days and not enter the Gulf of Mexico, where U.S. oil and gas operations are clustered.

The 2010 Atlantic hurricane season was predicted to be extremely active by most forecasters. Besides Igor, three hurricanes — Alex, Danielle and Earl — formed earlier in the season, the last two reaching Category 4 strength.

Several forecasters have said they expect the season to produce in all some five major hurricanes of Category 3 strength or stronger. The hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30 and is currently in its peak period.

The Gulf of Mexico is home to about 30 percent of U.S. oil production, 11 percent of natural gas production and more than 43 percent of U.S. refinery capacity.

(Reporting by Pascal Fletcher in Miami and Will Dunham in Washington; Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)

Hurricane Igor picks up strength in Atlantic Ocean