Tropical storm Joaquin strengthens, Hurricane Marty downgraded

MIAMI, USA – Tropical Storm Joaquin was nearing hurricane force and is expected to strengthen as it churns toward the eastern United States, which it could hit by the weekend, forecasters warned Tuesday, September 29.

At 2100 GMT, Joaquin was located 405 miles (650 kilometers) east of the northern Bahamas, with top sustained winds of 65 miles (100 kilometers) per hour, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

"Additional strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Joaquin could become a hurricane on Wednesday," the NHC added.

The NHC said that the storm's trajectory could take it gradually toward the northwest, and eventually near the southern US states of North Carolina and Virginia.

Joaquin is the 10th storm of the current Atlantic hurricane season, which began in June and ends in November.

Meanwhile, another storm, Marty, which had reached hurricane force at its peak, was downgraded to a tropical storm Tuesday as it churned in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Mexican resort town Acapulco.

On Monday, Marty's downpours and heavy rains prompted authorities to shutter schools, sending some 200,000 students home. –