updated 9/29/2006 5:35:22 PM ET 2006-09-29T21:35:22

Tropical Storm Isaac intensified Friday in the central Atlantic, and forecasters said it could become a hurricane as it drifted toward Canada, though it did not appear to be a major threat to land.

At 5 p.m. ET, the ninth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season had top sustained winds near 60 mph, up from 45 mph earlier in the day, and forecasters at the National Hurricane Center said it could strengthen into a hurricane over the weekend.

It was centered about 505 miles east-southeast of Bermuda and moving toward the west-northwest near 7 mph.

The storm was expected to curve toward the northeast, with an area of low pressure keeping it from nearing the United States, forecasters said.

Isaac should stay to the east of Bermuda, but the Canadian Maritimes and Newfoundland could feel the outer edges of the storm Monday or Tuesday, forecasters said.

Though it could be a Category 1 hurricane over the weekend, cooler water and crosswinds are expected to weaken it, hurricane specialist Lexion Avila said.

“We don’t have it over land, just the waters near the Canadian Maritimes. By then the system should become like one of the winter storms they have up there,” Avila said.

Isaac developed into a tropical storm Thursday.

The Atlantic hurricane season began June 1 and ends Nov. 30.

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