Hurricane Earl is expected to strengthen into the season’s first major hurricane sometime today, with maximum sustained winds of up to 130 mph by Friday night, forecasters said.
Earl is forecast to strengthen significantly, becoming a major hurricane, meaning Category 3 or above, by Thursday or Thursday night, the National Hurricane Center said in its latest advisory.
Its winds could top 130 mph by Friday night, which would make it a Category 4 hurricane.
As of 8 am Thursday, Earl’s maximum sustained winds had increased to 105 mph, making it the first Category 2 hurricane of the 2022 Atlantic season.
Earl was located about 265 miles south of Bermuda, moving north at 10 mph. Earl’s hurricane-force winds extended out up to 60 miles from its center while tropical storm-force winds extended out up to 160 miles.
Earl’s impacts could extend as far west as the US East Coast, in the form of rough seas, swells and rip currents starting late Thursday.
”Thankfully, Earl is going to pass over 800 miles east of the coast of North Carolina. However, hurricanes that are the size and strength of Earl can send swells outward over 1,000 miles from the storm,” AccuWeather senior meteorologist Michael Doll said.
Bermuda is now under a hurricane watch as well as a tropical storm warning as Earl closes in. The National Hurricane Center said Bermuda could see tropical storm and hurricane conditions by Thursday afternoon and into Friday morning. Its center is expected to pass to the southeast of Bermuda late Thursday.
“There will be some impacts on the islands of Bermuda in the form of building seas, rough surf, gusty winds and some rain from Earl, but the potentially destructive winds and torrential rain are likely to pass to the east,” said AccuWeather chief on -air meteorologist Bernie Rayno.
Earl is expected to continue moving north before taking a turn to the northeast, curving away from the US, on Friday.
Meanwhile, National Hurricane Center forecasters say an area of low pressure located off Africa’s west coast could form into a tropical depression Thursday, and gradual development is possible as this system moves generally west-northwestward in the Atlantic.
As of 8 am Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said it had 70% over the next two to five days.
If a tropical depression forms, it would be short-lived.
After Friday, it will face upper-level winds later this week, which are known to hinder storm development.
A second tropical wave is expected to emerge off Africa this week. It has been given a 30% chance of developing over the next five days.
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Hurricane Danielle weakened to a tropical storm early Thursday, and is expected to further weaken to a post-tropical storm later in the day.
“After transitioning into a tropical rainstorm, there is some chance that Danielle could bring rain to western Europe next week. The extent and location of the rain will depend on the exact track of the storm,” AccuWeather senior meteorologist Adam Douty said.
Danielle and Earl are the first named storms to form in the Atlantic since early July, when Tropical Storm Colin formed offshore of the Carolinas. This comes after a quiet August with no named storms, something that happened for only the third time since 1961.
The 2020 hurricane season set a record with 30 named systems, while 2021’s season was the third most active with 21 named systems. An average year calls for 14 named storms.
The next named storm to form will be Fiona.
Forecasters say dry air, Saharan dust and wind shear have been among the reasons there haven’t been more storms this year.
Hurricane season ends Nov. 30.