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Tropical Storm Epsilon likely to gain hurricane strength

climate change

Tropical Storm Epsilon is expected to strengthen into a hurricane late this week as it approaches Bermuda, the National Hurricane Center said in its 11 a.m. update Tuesday.

Epsilon was about 710 miles east-southeast of Bermuda with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph as it moves north-northwest at 8 mph over the central Atlantic.

A tropical storm watch has been issued for Bermuda.

Epsilon is predicted to keep heading west-northwest through most of the week before pulling an about-face toward the east. During that journey, the storm is expected to become a Category 1 hurricane with winds up to 80 mph. Due to its projected path, Epsilon is not forecast to make landfall anywhere around the United States.

Epsilon’s forecast has given hurricane specialists some difficulty in trying to determine its future intensity as it’s expected to move over relatively warm sea surface temperatures; however, the sea surface heat is expected to drop within 36 hours.

Additionally, Epsilon is expected to come into contact with several troughs, which should provide upper-level divergence to aid strengthening, but also may pump cool and dry air into the storm, hindering its growth.

Epsilon is the earliest 26th named storm on record, beating out the previous record of Nov. 22, 2005, by over a month. The record is broken during a season of record-breaking, early forming storms, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s database.

Meanwhile, a low-pressure system formed Monday afternoon in the southwestern Caribbean Sea. Upper-level winds are making development difficult. However, development is possible this week as the system moves slowly northwestward over the western Caribbean and toward the Yucatan peninsula.

The system is expected to bring heavy rainfall to portions of central and western Cuba, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and the Yucatan peninsula through midweek. The system has a 10% chance of developing over the next five days.

If it develops, it would be the 27th named storm of the year and given the Greek letter Zeta as its name. Any storm following the possible formation of Zeta would be a new NHC record as the hurricane center has never named a storm beyond the Greek letter Zeta before.

The official last day of the hurricane season is Nov. 30.


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