Katia regains hurricane strength far out in Atlantic

/ Source: msnbc.com news services

Katia on Friday regained hurricane strength far out in the Atlantic and forecasters say it is expected to continue getting stronger.

At 5 p.m. ET, the storm was about 630 miles east of the Leeward Islands and moving west-northwest at 12 mph with maximum sustained winds Friday of 75 mph, making it a Category 1 hurricane.

Hurricane Katia is seen from the International Space Station in this NASA handout picture taken August 31, 2011 and released on September 1, 2011. Katia, a Category 1 Hurricane, has weakened to a tropical storm but some restrengthening was forecast during the next 48 hours, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in its latest report on Thursday. Picture taken August 31, 2011. REUTERS/NASA/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY ENVIRONMENT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTSHo / X80001

Katia on Thursday had been downgraded to a tropical storm after earlier becoming a Category 1 hurricane.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said it's too early to tell if Katia will hit the U.S. It is expected to pass north of the Caribbean.

The center earlier cautioned the public — still recovering along parts of the East Coast from Irene — not to stress over the storm yet, even though it's over warm waters and in a low wind shear environment, two ingredients that could propel it to become a major hurricane.

"It's got a lot of ocean to go. There's no way at this point to say if it will make any impacts, let alone when it might make them," said NHC spokesman Dennis Feltgen. "There's a reason we don't do forecasts more than five days in advance — the information just isn't good. The error beyond that just isn't acceptable."

Meanwhile a slow-moving tropical depression is slogging toward the U.S. Gulf coast, packing walloping rains that could drench the region from Louisiana to Alabama with up to 20 inches.