Frances Strengthens to a Hurricane

A rapidly intensifying storm churning in the Atlantic Ocean became a hurricane Thursday, but posed no immediate threat to land.

Hurricane Frances (search) was expected to become better organized Friday, forecasters said. Frances was a tropical depression Wednesday afternoon, but became a tropical storm and then a hurricane over the next day.

At 5 p.m. EDT, Frances was located in the central Atlantic Ocean, about 1,000 miles east of the Lesser Antilles (search), and had maximum sustained winds near 80 mph. A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when its winds reach 75 mph. Frances was moving west-northwest near 16 mph.

Frances is the sixth named storm of the 2004 Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.