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Philippe Becomes 5th Hurricane of 2011 Season

Philippe was still a tropical storm when the TRMM satellite passed above on October 3, 2011 at 1806 UTC (2:06 p.m. EDT) and took the data that made this image. The image shows the heaviest rainfall in Philippe (2 inches/50 mm per hour) in red, falling in its southeastern quadrant. Moderate to light rainfall appears in green and blue, falling at a rate between .78 to 1.57 inches (20 to 40 mm) per hour. (Image credit: NASA/SSAI, Hal Pierce)

Tropical Storm Philippe formed in the far eastern Atlantic Ocean nearly two weeks ago; today, after days spent chugging across the ocean waters, Philippe has strengthened into the fifth hurricane of the 2011 season.

Hurricane Philippe is still swirling over the open ocean about 425 miles (680 kilometers) southeast of Bermuda, with winds of 80 mph (130 kph), making it a Category 1 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane strength.

While it was a tropical storm, Philippe moved primarily westward across the Atlantic, but it is now moving to the north-northeast at about 9 mph (15 kph). Philippe is not currently a threat to land.

Philippe's time as a hurricane is likely to be short-lived, as the storm is expected to weaken as it moves to the northeast in the coming days.

In addition to being the fifth hurricane of the 2011 season, Philippe was the 16th named storm. The 2011 season was predicted to be a doozy, with 14 to 19 named storms (which include tropical storms and hurricanes), seven to 10 hurricanes and three to five major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher). So far there have been 16 named storms, five hurricanes (Irene, Katia, Maria and Ophelia were the others) and two major hurricanes (Irene and Katia).

The official end of hurricane season is Nov. 30, though storms have formed at later dates in seasons past.

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