Hurricane Fred strengthened into a powerful Category 3 storm in the eastern Atlantic Ocean on Wednesday but its newfound intensity was expected to be short-lived and it posed no threat to any land.
Fred's sustained winds whipped up to 120 miles per hour (195 km per hour), making it the second "major" hurricane -- Category 3 or higher on the five-step Saffir-Simpson intensity scale -- of the 2009 Atlantic season, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
"It is quite unusual to have such a powerful system so far east in the (Atlantic) basin," the hurricane center said in a statement. "Fred is only the third major hurricane noted east of 35 (degrees west longitude) in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and the strongest hurricane so far south and east in our data record."
Fred was thousands of miles (km) east of the populous U.S. East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico oil and gas production areas and was expected to fade to a tropical storm within three days, forecasters said.