MIAMI (AP) _ Hurricane Earl's 90 mph winds threatened only a few cargo ships Monday as it loitered over the Atlantic Ocean and slowly weakened, forecasters said.

A high-pressure ridge had kept Earl drifting east-southeast at about 7 mph but the storm was expected to turn toward the east or northeast by Tuesday night, according to the National Hurricane Center in Coral Gables.

At 10:30 p.m. EDT Monday, Earl's center was near latitude 29 north, longitude 48.9 west, about 985 miles east-southeast of Bermuda and was of concern only to maritime interests in the central north Atlantic, the advisory said.

By mid-week, the fifth named storm of the 1986 Atlantic hurricane season should lumber northeast toward cooler water and will further weaken until it eventually dies, said hurricane forecaster Bob Sheets.

Meanwhile, forecasters Monday were tracking two disturbed weather areas, one off the coast of Panama and one near the southern Bahamas.

The system dumping thundershowers over Panama is expected to move into the Pacific Ocean, while the Caribbean area of disturbed weather is poorly organized and shows no sign of developing, Sheets said.

Hurricane Earl, which began as a tropical depression last Wednesday, developed into a tropical storm Thursday with sustained winds of 39 mph and escalated into a hurricane hours later when winds reached 74 mph.

Forecasters dubbed Earl a ''mini-hurricane'' Friday, when its eye - the ring of thunderstorms surrounding a clear area - measured just 8 miles wide. It grew to 40 miles wide on Saturday, but dropped to 25 miles across on Sunday.

The last named storm this season was Tropical Storm Danielle, which fell apart near Jamaica without hitting land. Hurricane Charley killed five people as it tore into North Carolina's Outer Banks and the mid-Atlantic coast; Hurricane Bonnie left three dead as it swept across Texas and Louisiana and Tropical Storm Andrew died in the Atlantic.

Last week was the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.