MIAMI (AP) _ Tropical Storm Alberto, the first named storm of the 2000 hurricane season, gathered strength in the Atlantic Ocean near Africa on Friday, but forecasters say it's too early to predict if it will threaten the United States or the Caribbean.

Alberto was centered about 170 miles south-southwest of the Cape Verde Islands, about 3,000 miles southeast of Florida, and moving west at about 17 mph Friday.

The storm has sustained winds of 60 mph and is expected to strengthen over the next day, said Lixion Avila, a forecaster at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Avila said the storm could be near Puerto Rico late next week if it doesn't change course or disintegrate.

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On the Net:

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