Hurricane Epsilon, now with wind speeds that make it a strong Category 2 storm, continued to swirl toward Bermuda on Thursday morning as the National Hurricane Center said the storm had made a “wobbly” turn toward the northwest.

The storm, the 10th hurricane of an extremely active Atlantic season, was about 260 miles east southeast of Bermuda, according to a 5 a.m. Eastern time advisory from the hurricane center. Epsilon had maximum sustained winds of 110 miles per hour, barely shy of Category 3 strength, and was moving northwest at seven miles per hour.

Bermuda remained under a tropical storm warning, meaning that tropical storm conditions were expected somewhere within the area within 36 hours, the center said. Epsilon’s eye was forecast to make its closest approach to the east of the island nation later Thursday evening.

Overall, Epsilon was forecast to turn toward the north-northwest on Thursday, then toward the north on Friday with an acceleration toward the northeast on Saturday. The storm is not currently expected to make landfall in the United States.

Large swells generated by Epsilon had already begun affecting Bermuda, the Bahamas, the Greater Antilles and the Leeward Islands, the center said, and are expected to reach portions of the East Coast of the United States and Atlantic Canada over the next few days.

While Epsilon remains a Category 2 storm, meteorologists said some fluctuations in intensity were possible, but it was expected to weaken on Thursday and into the weekend.

Epsilon quickly intensified on Wednesday when it went from Category 1 to a Category 3 within a matter of hours. “Epsilon has continued to defy expectations and rapidly intensify,” the hurricane center said in a statement on Wednesday evening.

As a Category 3, it had become the fourth major hurricane of the season — those of Category 3 intensity or greater — which still has more than a month to go.

It would also be the second major hurricane to form in the Atlantic this month, along with Delta, which slammed into Lake Charles, a Louisiana community still not recovered from a hit by Hurricane Laura in August.

Philip Klotzbach, a meteorologist at Colorado State University noted that since 1950, there have been only five other years in which two major Atlantic hurricanes had formed in October, including 1950, 1961, 1964, 1995 and 2005, he said.

Hurricane Paulette was one of the most recent storms to affect Bermuda, knocking down power lines but causing only minimal property damage when it made landfall there on Sept. 14. The storm hovered over the island longer than the Bermuda Weather Service had predicted. Hurricane Teddy passed to the east of the island on Sept. 21, causing tropical storm conditions there.

This year’s Atlantic hurricane season is one of the most active on record, meteorologists said. So far, there have been 26 named storms, of which 10 were hurricanes. It’s near the record set in 2005, when 28 storms grew strong enough to have names; 14 of them were hurricanes, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman and meteorologist with the National Hurricane Center in Miami, has called the 2020 hurricane season “hyperactive” compared with the average hurricane season, which typically produces 12 named storms, including three that develop into major hurricanes.

“This is a large storm,” Mr. Feltgen said, noting that Epsilon was expected to come close enough to Bermuda to cause tropical storm conditions on the archipelago.

In May, NOAA predicted an above-normal season in the Atlantic, but in August, government scientists updated their outlook.

In recent decades, scientists have seen increased hurricane activity in the North Atlantic, by a measure that combines intensity with characteristics like duration and frequency of storms. Climate scientists say there are links between global warming and at least the intensity of hurricanes. As ocean temperatures rise, hurricanes grow stronger as warm water serves as the fuel that powers them.

source: nytimes.com

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