Hurricane Danielle downgraded as it heads east of Bermuda

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Hurricane Danielle unexpectedly weakened in the open Atlantic Ocean on Tuesday and was downgraded to a Category 1 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale, as winds eased from 100 miles per hour to 80 mph, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

The storm still posed no threat to energy interests in the Gulf of Mexico as it headed west-northwest and well to the east of Bermuda.

The NHC said the low-level center of Danielle became exposed and, as a result, the eyewall became eroded.

Slow strengthening was still expected, with the intensity at days four and five holding just below major hurricane strength, but the storm’s peak intensity was now seen at Category 2 with winds between 96 and 110 mph and not a previously forecast Category 3 peak intensity.

Computer models showed Danielle curving to the northwest on a path that would keep it over open seas, then turning more northerly well to the east of Bermuda.

(Reporting by Eileen Moustakis; Editing by Marguerita Choy)