Tropical storm Katia gains strength

Tropical storm Katia has formed in the Atlantic and will likely reach hurricane intensity by late Wednesday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center says.

Irene cleanup continues along U.S. East Coast

The name Katia replaces Katrina, which was retired from the rotating roster of storm names after the devastating 2005 storm that devastated New Orleans. ((U.S. National Hurricane Center) )

Tropical storm Katia has formed in the Atlantic and will likely reach hurricane intensity by late Wednesday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center says.

Late Tuesday night, Katia was located about 1,400 kilometres west of the southernmost Cape Verde Islands and was moving "briskly west-northwestward" across the Atlantic, the Miami-based centre said.

The storm's maximum sustained winds had steadied at 95 km/h by Tuesday night, and additional strengthening is forecast over the next 48 hours. Katia was moving at 35 km/h on a track that would pass northeast of the Caribbean's Leeward Islands and toward the Carolinas.

Hurricane specialist Michael Brennan said Tuesday that Katia could affect the Caribbean, but that it was too early to tell whether it would go on to hit the U.S.

The name Katia replaces Katrina in the rotating storm roster because of the catastrophic damage from the 2005 storm that devastated New Orleans.

The new storm comes on the heels of Irene, which hit several U.S. states along the Eastern Seaboard as a hurricane before weakening into a tropical storm as it moved north.

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Irene left at least 48 people dead in 11 states. Millions of people were still without electricity Tuesday, and utilities warned it could take several days before people get their power back.

While residents waited for their lights to come back on, and communities from New York to Maine took stock of the storm, homeowners and towns in land-locked Vermont faced a sobering new reality: Washed-out roads and bridges left them, for now, inaccessible by automobile, with flooding is still a risk in many communities, according to officials. The National Guard deployed helicopters to bring food and supplies to marooned towns.

Irene also brought heavy rain and wind to parts of Quebec and the Maritimes, leaving thousands of customers without power. 

In Quebec, an 81-year-old man who disappeared during Irene has died in hospital after being found two kilometres from his cabin, while police were searching the Yamaska River for a man who was in his vehicle when it was swept away following the collapse of a culvert.

With files from The Associated Press