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Hurricane Ophelia is headed toward Europe

Hurricane Ophelia is headed toward Europe

The hurricane's maximum sustained winds early Thursday were near 85 miles per hour (140 kph) with some slight strengthening possible over the next day or two.

Ophelia became a hurricane on Wednesday, becoming the 10th hurricane in the Atlantic in 2017. That stat - combined with the number of major hurricanes we've seen and the overall cyclone energy generated by the storms - make this an extremely active Atlantic hurricane season by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's standards.

But the record deserves an asterisk because Lee could have counted as two storms, according to Brenden Moses, a researcher working on the National Hurricane Center databases. Four days later, Lee sprung back to life as a tropical cyclone and eventually strengthened to a Category 3 hurricane on September 27.

Ophelia is not a threat to USA land, but is raising a few concerns in western Europe.

Ophelia strengthened into a hurricane Wednesday afternoon. The last time a season produced 10 consecutive hurricanes was in 1893, according to Colorado State University meteorologist Phil Klotzbach - a period when tracking hurricanes largely relied on ships and barometric readings. A slow northeast drift is expected tonight and tomorrow, followed by an acceleration toward the east-northeast or northeast.

It is unlikely Ophelia makes a direct hit on the Azores, but, at a minimum, some outer rain bands and gusty winds could impact eastern portions of the Portuguese archipelago this weekend.

Even as an ex-hurricane, both the American and European models suggest parts of Ireland, especially near the west coast, could be blasted by hurricane-like conditions on Monday. Only 15 known hurricanes have passed within 200 nautical miles of the Azores since 1851.

This could bring a blast of high winds to the Emerald Isle, particularly the western half of Ireland early next week.


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