Tropical depression forms in open Atlantic

MIAMI Thu Oct 11, 2007 9:57pm BST

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MIAMI (Reuters) - The 15th tropical depression of the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season formed on Thursday in the northern Atlantic Ocean and posed no immediate threat to land, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

The depression, which could become Tropical Storm Noel if its sustained winds reach 39 miles per hour (63 km per hour), a scenario the hurricane center did not consider all that likely, was 860 miles east of Bermuda by 5 p.m., forecasters said.

Most computer models suggested the system would head to the northeast, away from the United States, the Caribbean islands and the Gulf of Mexico.

Thirteen named tropical storms have already formed this year, above the long-term average of 10 or 11 storms. One depression never became a storm before hitting land.

Four became hurricanes, under the average of six. Two of the four reached Category 5 status, the top rank on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity.

The six-month hurricane season officially runs until the end of November.

(Additional reporting by Michael Christie)

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