Tropical storms Gordon and Helen do not pose any threat to USA

Hurricane Gordon downgrades to Category 2 storm today. Tropical Storm Helene has not been gaining strength lately either. The two storms currently brewing in the open Atlantic not posing an immediate threat to land, forecasters said.

Gordon's top sustained winds were near 110 mph (177 kph), just below the 111 mph (178.6 kph) threshold for a Category 3 storm, according to the National Hurricane Center.

At 5 a.m. EDT (0900 GMT), the storm was centered about 680 miles (1,094 kilometers) east of Bermuda and moving northeast near 9 mph (14.5 kph). More weakening was expected over the next day, said Jamie Rhome, a hurricane specialist.

Helene had top sustained winds near 45 mph (72.4 kph), but was expected to strengthen by the weekend. It was centered about 1,060 miles (1,705.5 kilometers) west of the southernmost Cape Verde Islands and moving west-northwest near 15 mph (24 kph), forecasters said.

"Helene will gradually strengthen and may eventually become a hurricane, but it doesn't look like it will happen quickly," Rhome said. It is not an immediate threat to land, he said.

The Atlantic hurricane season began June 1 and ends Nov. 30. The National Hurricane Center's latest forecast for the season expects between seven and nine hurricanes, a slight reduction from earlier predictions.

Federal scientists said this week that the season has not been as busy because weak El Nino conditions have developed in the tropical Pacific. El Nino means higher ocean temperatures that inhibit hurricanes by increasing crosswinds over the Caribbean. This vertical wind shear can rip storms apart or even stop them from forming.

But National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists warned that the El Nino impacts on hurricanes have been small so far, the AP says.

"We are still in the peak months of the Atlantic hurricane season, and conditions remain generally conducive for hurricane formation," said Gerry Bell, the agency's lead seasonal hurricane forecaster.