Ophelia, 285 km northeast of the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean, has strengthened to Tropical Storm status, packing sustained winds of 95 km/h with higher gusts possible in the latest advisory. Hurricane Hunter flight data (yes they do fly into tropical systems!) indicate that she has strengthened a good bit from Wednesday mornings advisory. She is slowly moving to the northwest at 9 km/h according to the latest tropics advisory issued by the National Hurricane Center in Miami Florida. Right now, Ophelia is expected to continue to strengthen to Hurricane status in the next 24 hours, as she moves over a favorable environment for hurricane development. Warm Sea surface temperatures ( an SST of 26C or greater is needed to sustain or strengthen a tropical system) along with low wind shear ( winds at different levels) should help the strengthening process.
Newfoundland look out! RIght now, there is much better weather model agreement on where Ophelia is headed, and a better indication of her strength. Right now, a large high pressure system northeast of Bermuda (giving us the nice warm weather today and Friday) will move to the East and weaken, allowing for Ophelia to ride north on the outer edge of the high. The Avalon Peninsula and St. John’s Newfoundland look to be in the cross hairs for a second tropical hit this season. I should also mention that the rest of Newfoundland is also in the “cone of uncertainty” a term meteorologists use to describe the possible movement of weather systems. It looks as if Ophelia may land as a weak category 1 hurricane or strong extra tropical storm as she rapidly weakens over cold sea surface temperatures south of Newfoundland. It’s still a bit early to say what the exact figures will be for rain and winds, but none the less I would advise my readers in Newfoundland to start preparing for a possible Monday October 3rd Landfall! It is most likely that the island will experience 100 km/h winds or higher with this system. It’s never too early to prepare. As more and more data is collected by off shore buoys, satellites, and aircraft in the next 24 hours, we will have a better idea of where to predict this tropical storm.
Bermuda may see some influence from Ophelia in the next few days; I would not recommend a vacation get away there in the near term! Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Philippe still continues to move to the west northwest, but again is not expected to be much of a hazard to many people. Elsewhere, tropical development is not expected in the next 24 hours.
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