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Tropical Storm Mitch Is Drifting

October 24, 1998

MIAMI (AP) _ Tropical Storm Mitch became less robust Friday and began drifting toward an uncertain future over the western Caribbean.

Mitch moved little in 24 hours as the system became less organized, said Lixion Avila, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

``We thought it was going to turn into a hurricane today, but it hasn’t yet,″ Avila said.

Although no tropical storm warnings or watches had been issued, forecasters urged people in the western Caribbean to closely monitor the storm.

At 11 p.m. EDT Friday, Mitch had top sustained winds near 60 mph, and the storm was expected to gain more strength Saturday. A tropical storm’s top sustained winds must reach at least 74 mph to become a hurricane.

The storm was centered about 320 miles south-southwest of Kingston, Jamaica. Mitch was barely moving, drifting north-northwestward at 3 mph, and was expected to keep that course through Saturday.

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