MIAMI — Hurricane Bill weakened slightly to a Category 3 storm early Thursday over the open Atlantic with top sustained winds of 125 mph. Forecasters said the storm could regain power in the next 24 hours, while dangerous waves and riptides were likely along most of the eastern U.S. coast over the weekend.
Bermuda was near the projected path of the major storm and may be placed under a hurricane or tropical storm watch later Thursday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
Forecasters said Bill could become a Category 4 storm again later Thursday or Friday, meaning winds between 131 mph and 155 mph.
The center's five-day track for Bill showed the storm staying well out to sea off the southern and northern U.S. coast. Bill was forecast to pass between Bermuda and the Carolinas Saturday and inch closer to shore as it moves north but only come close to landfall in Canada's Maritime provinces before veering back out into the North Atlantic.
Large swells created by the storm would affect the northern Leeward Islands, the Bahamas, Bermuda and most of the eastern U.S. coast during the next few days.
The swells will likely cause extremely dangerous surf and riptides along the coasts, forecasters said.
Early Thursday, Bill was centered about 325 miles north-northeast of the Leeward Islands and about 790 miles south-southeast of Bermuda. The hurricane is moving northwest near 18 mph.