Tropical Storm Irene continued on a northwest track Saturday, following a course that was expected to eventually curve away from the U.S. East Coast (search), forecasters said.

At 11 a.m. EDT, Irene was centered about 280 miles west-southwest of Bermuda (search) and about 480 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C. (search). It was moving northwest at about 10 mph and was expected to make a gradual turn toward the north-northwest on Sunday while slowing a bit, according to the National Hurricane Center (search).

The storm's top sustained wind speed was near 70 mph, and it would become a hurricane if its sustained wind reached at least 74 mph.

The hurricane center's forecast maps projected a gradual turn toward the northeast, which would keep it well off the East Coast.

Normally, there are only two named storms by this time in the Atlantic hurricane season, which began June 1 and ends Nov. 30. Irene developed Sunday, weakened to a tropical depression Monday, then regained tropical storm strength Wednesday.