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CAPE HATTERAS, N.C. (AP) _ Tropical Storm Arthur, the first tropical storm of the 2002 Atlantic hurricane season, formed off the East Coast on Monday but posed no threat to land, meteorologists said.

The storm was moving out to sea and was primarily a threat to shipping interests, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Arthur had sustained wind of 50 mph with higher gusts, and was moving toward the east-northeast at 23 mph, said hurricane center forecaster Stacy Stewart. Tropical storms have maximum sustained wind of 39 mph, and the threshold for a hurricane is 74 mph.

The storm was expected to maintain its strength for the next 24 hours with a gradual increase in speed, the hurricane center said.

At 11 a.m. EDT, Arthur was located about 340 miles east-northeast of Cape Hatteras, or about 725 miles southwest of Sable Island, Nova Scotia.

Tropical storm-force wind extended outward up to 70 miles.

The hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.

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On the Net:

National Hurricane Center: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/