Earl could strengthen into a major hurricane as it nears Bermuda by late Thursday

Hurricane Earl continues to strengthen Wednesday and could become a major hurricane by week’s end, according to the National Hurricane Center, as it nears Bermuda before pushing out to sea.

Just the second hurricane of this Atlantic season, Earl has sustained winds of 85 mph, with stronger gusts.

Located about 400 miles south of Bermuda, the hurricane is moving north at 10 mph. It is expected to continue strengthening into a major, Category 3 storm as it passes to the southeast of Bermuda Thursday night.

A hurricane watch is now in effect for Bermuda and a tropical storm warning remains in place for the island as well. A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected within 36 hours, while a hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions are possible.

“Although Earl’s center is forecast to pass southeast of Bermuda, the wind field is expected to grow, with tropical-storm-force winds forecast to spread across the island beginning Thursday afternoon and continuing through Friday morning,” the hurricane center said.

The storm is forecast to move northeast from there, away from any land mass.

Earl became the fifth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season Friday, forming 185 miles east of the Leeward Islands.

Hurricane Danielle latest

Danielle, which on Friday became the first of this season’s Atlantic hurricanes, is still churning far out in the open ocean and “continues to produce a large area of very rough seas over the central-north Atlantic,” the hurricane center said Wednesday morning.

It is expected to weaken into a tropical storm Thursday.

When Danielle became a named storm September 1, it was the first since July 3 — meaning last month was the first August in 25 years to go without a single named storm in the Atlantic.

The last time a season’s first hurricane formed that late was September 11, 2013, with Hurricane Humberto.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30. The areas covered include the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.

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