Hurricane Ophelia forms in the Atlantic Ocean

12 October, 2017, 00:57 | Author: Malcolm Fuller
  • Tropical storm Ophelia path map from NOAA

Tropical Storm Ophelia continues to strengthen as it moves to the southeast and its forecast to become a hurricane by late Wednesday or early Thursday.

On August 9th, the National Hurricane Center updated their 2017 outlook and predicted it was going to be an above average season.

Ophelia, which is not a threat to the US, could affect the Azores, Portugal and Ireland.

Wind shear - which could disrupt the storm's development - is light, and it is passing over sea surface temperatures much warmer than normal, which should help it sustain hurricane strength through at least Friday.

After briefly becoming a tropical storm, Lee degenerated into a remnant low on September 18 about halfway between West Africa and the Lesser Antilles.

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While Ophelia may lose the technical aspects that make it a hurricane, it could still pack a punch. Could western Europe be the next land area afflicted by a powerhouse storm this awful hurricane season?

Forecast: Azores Brush, Then Irish Blast?

Ophelia is now tracking towards Portugal, and will likely pass to the west of the country.

Center officials said the hurricane is forecast to drift northeastward over the next 24 hours. Only 15 known hurricanes have passed within 200 nautical miles of the Azores since 1851. All of those occurred in August or September, except for Hurricane Fran in October 1973 and Hurricane Alex in January 2016, which made landfall shortly after weakening to a tropical storm. If this doesn't happen Ophelia will be among only two other tropical cyclones that have impacted the west coast of the Iberian Peninsula. The NHC predicted there would be 14-19 named storms, 5-9 hurricanes, and 2-5 major hurricanes. Neither of those was a hurricane.

By the time Ophelia reaches northern Europe, it may no longer be a tropical system, instead possibly transitioning into a powerful extratropical low pressure area. Strongest winds are far from the center and higher in the atmosphere.

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