Hurricane Earl is seen in the Atlantic basin near Bermuda on Wednesday. Forecasters expect the storm will pass by Bermuda and head to the northeast, avoiding landfall in the United States. Image courtesy NOAA/NHC
Sept. 8 (BP) — Hurricane Earl continued to strengthen early Thursday as forecasters expect it will become a major hurricane later in the day as it heads near Bermuda.
Earl formed in the Caribbean last weekend to become the fifth named storm of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, following Alex, Bonnie, Colin and Danielle.
The National Hurricane Center said in its 5 a.m. EDT update Thursday that the storm was located 280 miles south of Bermuda. It had maximum sustained winds of 105 mph and was moving north at 9 mph.
A storm becomes a hurricane when sustained winds reach 74 mph. It becomes a major hurricane at Category 3 — when winds exceed 111 mph — or higher.
“Additional strengthening is forecast during the next couple of days, and Earl is expected to become a major hurricane later today,” the NHC said in its update.
The storm is not projected to make landfall anywhere in the United States. After passing Bermuda, it is expected to keep heading to the northeast, away from the U.S. East Coast.
As of Wednesday night, a Hurricane Watch and Tropical storm warning were in effect for Bermuda.
Hurricane-force winds extend up to 60 miles from the center of the storm and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 160 miles.
Hurricanes Danielle and Earl came after a highly unusual August, during which there were zero named tropical systems. It was the first time in 25 years that August came and went without a named storm in the Atlantic basin.
Accuweather meteorologists expect there will still be 16 named storms before the hurricane season ends on Nov. 30. They project that between six and eight will become hurricanes.
“Our thinking has not changed as far as 2022 still being an active season,” AccuWeather hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said last month. “Our biggest concern is for a high chance for high-impact hurricanes.”