District of Columbia: Hurricane Gaston weakened to a tropical storm Thursday, just hours after becoming the third hurricane of the Atlantic season, the US-based National Hurricane Center said.
Swirling over the central Atlantic Ocean about 1,160 miles (1,865 kilometers) east of the Leeward Islands, Gaston`s maximum sustained winds were at 70 miles (110 kilometers) per hour, the NHC said in a statement.
Earlier in the day, winds reached nearly 75 miles (120 kilometers) per hour, earning Gaston its brief moment as a hurricane.
The weakest hurricane strength, a Category 1 storm, has sustained winds of 74 to 95 miles (119 to 152 kilometers) per hour.
Gaston continued to travel in a northwesterly direction at 17 miles per hour.
"Some re-strengthening is expected to begin Friday night, and Gaston could become a hurricane again on Saturday," the NHC said.
Although the Atlantic hurricane season officially runs from June 1 to November 30, this year`s first hurricane -- Alex -- formed in January during an unusual weather event.
The Climate Prediction Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) initially estimated the Atlantic would see between 10 and 16 storms this year, but recently updated its prediction to 17.
Earl became this season`s second hurricane earlier this month, leaving 45 dead in Mexico.
Last year`s number of storms was below average, with 11 tropical storms in the Atlantic, six of which became hurricanes, including two major ones.