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Ophelia Strengthens to Category 1 Hurricane

Tropical Storm Ophelia has strengthened into a hurricane again and forecasters say it will likely strike the eastern U.S. coast in the next few days.

The National Hurricane Center in Florida said Ophelia is packing winds near 130 kilometers per hour and is located about 350 kilometers east of the U.S. state of South Carolina. They say they expect the category one hurricane to slightly strengthen and turn west over the next 24 hours.

A hurricane watch has been issued for a 500-kilometer stretch of the southeastern United States from the Florida-Georgia border to just south of Virginia.

Two hurricanes have already struck the United States this year, including the devastating Hurricane Katrina - which hit the U.S. Gulf Coast nearly two weeks ago, killing possibly thousands and causing an estimated $125 billion in damage.

Forecasters say about five Atlantic hurricanes strike the United States coastline each year. The Atlantic hurricane season began June 1 and ends November 30, with peak storm activity from the end of August through mid-September.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.