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Hurricane Season Steps Up With Danielle and Earl

Hurricane Danielle, on the left, is gathering speed, but it's Tropical Storm Earl, to the right of the picture, that GRIP scientists are aiming for. The bright sand of the Sahara is visible on the far right edge of the image. (Image credit: NOAA.)

Update 9:15 a.m. ET Friday, Aug. 27: Danielle is now a Category 4 hurricane with maximum winds of 135 mph (215 kph).

After a relatively quiet summer, the Atlantic hurricane season is ramping up with Hurricane Danielle and Tropical Storm Earl swirling over Atlantic waters.

Danielle became the second hurricane of the Atlantic basin season (which lasts from June 1 to Nov. 30) on Aug. 23. The first hurricane of the season was Hurricane Alex, which hit the Gulf Coast of Mexico on June 30.

Danielle formed as a tropical depression over the Atlantic Ocean on Aug. 22 and had strengthened to a tropical storm by the following day. After becoming a hurricane, Danielle waffled, weakening into a tropical storm again before working back up to hurricane status again yesterday. Danielle is currently a Category 2 with winds of 105 mph (165 kph).

The storm, which is expected to travel northward to the east of Bermuda, could strengthen again and become a Category 3 storm in the next 24 to 48 hours.

Tropical Depression 7 became Tropical Storm Earl around 5 p.m. EDT on Aug. 25. It is expected to strengthen and possibly become a hurricane by early Saturday.

Hurricane forecasters have called for an active 2010 season . Though it has been quiet so far, the season only reaches its peak in late August through early October. Forecasts have predicted there will be 14 to 20 named storms this year, eight to 12 of which are expected to become hurricanes.

Hurricane hunters are hoping to learn more about these ferocious storms this year with several research missions that will send both manned planes and unmanned drones into the storms to make measurements.

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