Hurricane Ophelia strengthens to Category 2 storm, NHC says

MIAMI — Hurricane Ophelia strengthened to a Category 2 storm, swirling far from land in the eastern Atlantic, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center’s (NHC) latest advisory.

The NHC says Ophelia is barely moving and is continuing to strengthening, now boasting top sustained winds of 100 mph.

On Thursday afternoon, Ophelia’s core was located about 715 miles southwest of the Azores, where it was virtually stationary.

The Miami-based hurricane center says Ophelia should lose a little strength in the next 48 hours but is expected to remain a hurricane for the next couple of days.

The hurricane center’s five-day forecast, which can change, has Ophelia heading close to the British Isles by Monday afternoon. That’s a bit of an unusual track for Atlantic storms. Currently there are no coastal watches or warnings in effect.

Ophelia became a hurricane Wednesday, the 10th hurricane in the Atlantic in 2017. It’s unlikely it will be a threat to U.S., although it could possibly be a threat to Ireland, the NHC said Wednesday.

University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy says Ophelia is the 10th straight tropical storm to become a hurricane in an Atlantic season. That has not happened since 1893, according to McNoldy. He says a combination of slightly warmer than normal water and weak upper level winds helped make that hurricane streak.

Additionally, the 2017 hurricane season has been busy — there were two Category 5 storms: Irma and Maria. There were two others, Harvey and Jose, that reached Category 4 strength.

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