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Rare hurricane stirs South Atlantic

Storm could make landfall in Brazil late Saturday or early Sunday

The storm swirls off the coast of Brazil in this satellite image taken Saturday at 10 a.m. ET.

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National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration

(CNN) -- A rare South Atlantic hurricane about 110 miles off the coast of southeastern Brazil on Saturday afternoon was expected to make landfall Saturday night or Sunday, a U.S. government meteorologist said.

The report marked the first time since 1966, when satellite tracking began, that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has recorded a hurricane-strength storm in the South Atlantic Ocean, said Jack Beven, a hurricane specialist with the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida.

"Some of the outer cloud bands are just reaching the coast," Beven said.

He described the Category 1 storm, which was packing 85 mph winds, as moving southwesterly toward the coast at about 9 mph and predicted it would not gain strength.

Tropical storm-strength winds extended less than 100 miles from the eye.

"The whole thing is only about 200 miles across, at best," Beven said. "Size-wise, it's a very small system."

No one on shore was reporting significant storms, he said.

"It's not a done deal that it's going to move inland. However, if there is a landfall, it looks like it could be either late tonight or tomorrow," Beven said.

The storm was about 220 miles east of Porto Alegre, a city of 1.5 million, and about 540 miles from Rio de Janiero, home to more than 6 million.

Such storms are so rare that there is no system for naming them. In the North Atlantic, hurricanes are identified according to a yearly list of alternating men's and women's names.

"We're just calling it the South Atlantic Hurricane for the moment," Beven said.

Vertical shear -- unfavorable upper-level winds -- and a lack of viable disturbances that can become tropical cyclones make hurricanes exceedingly rare in the South Atlantic, he said.

"Put the two together, and tropical cyclones in the South Atlantic are, at best, few and far between."

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