Hurricane Earl on track to become first major storm of the year

Hurricane Earl, now a Category 2 hurricane, is still on track to become the first major hurricane of the year by Friday, likely reaching Category 3 strength by Saturday. Meanwhile, the National Hurricane Center is keeping its eye on two other systems that could become tropical storms.

In its 8 p.m. update on Thursday, the NHC said maximum sustained winds for Hurricane Earl are about 100 mph and it is expected to become a major hurricane on Friday. Then, strong winds of 120 mph are expected by Saturday — a major storm classified as a Category 3 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of more than 110 mph. However, Earl’s storm surge is not expected to last much longer. The storm is forecast to become a powerful post-tropical low on Sunday.

Forecast models tell Earl to curve in the northeastern Atlantic away from the US. The hurricane is not expected to threaten Florida.

Earl is expected to intensify into a major hurricane within the next 12 hours, but the storm is predicted to be “captured” by a trough of low pressure, allowing it to undergo a warm-type extratropical transition. From that point on, Earl should drop his hurricane title and take on extra-tropical status.

At the present time, Earl has hurricane-force winds capable of reaching 60 miles from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds capable of reaching up to 160 miles from its center. The storm is located about 180 miles south of Bermuda, moving to the north at about 13 mph. Forecasters expect Earl to begin rapidly moving southeast of Bermuda on Thursday night. It should move at its fastest by Saturday, when it is followed by a tropical storm.

The Bermuda Weather Service has issued a Hurricane Watch and Tropical Storm Warning for the island.

NHC is still monitoring three other targets in the tropics – none of which currently threaten the US

As of an 11 a.m. update, Danielle was downgraded into a tropical storm Thursday morning with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph. As of Thursday afternoon, forecasters stopped issuing updates about the storm.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Danielle became the first hurricane of the season on September 2, more than three weeks later than the statistical average of August 11. NOAA said this latest is the first Atlantic season hurricane to form since 2013 when Hurricane Humberto formed on September 11. The first storm of the season was driven by record-breaking sea surface temperatures.

Additionally, the NHC is monitoring a low pressure area 1,300 miles east of the Leeward Islands as it moves generally from west to west-northwest. h

Experts predict that a small increase in organization could lead to a short-lived tropical storm, in which case, it would be the sixth named storm of the year and receive the moniker Fiona. As a result, hurricane experts increased the odds of the system developing to 60% over the next two to five days. A tropical depression may form in the next day or so as the Atlantic atmosphere remains ideal for hurricane development. However, the upper level winds are expected to be less favorable towards the end of this week.

Finally, a tropical wave is located several hundred miles to the south-southeast of the Cabo Verde Islands. The wave is creating disorderly rain and thunderstorms. Atlantic conditions appear ripe for a hurricane to mature, which has a 30% chance of doing so over the next five days.

The Atlantic basin is full of tropical activity, but for a large portion of the season, it remained calm, unlike the average season, according to NOAA records, which show that the seventh storm of the year usually emerges on or before September 3. The third storm of the year is noted on or before 7 September.

In August, NOAA reiterated its precision forecast for an above-average hurricane season, calling for 14 to 21 named tropical storms. One experiences an average season 14. The majority of this activity is predicted to occur between mid-August and mid-October.

Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30.

jpedersen@orlandosentinel.com

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