16 October 2014

Hurricane Gonzalo one day away from Bermuda

As of 8am EDT today, Gonzalo is a Category 4 hurricane with 140mph sustained winds.  As I pointed out before, this is the strongest Atlantic hurricane in three years (it's tied with Ophelia 2011).  The last storm that was stronger (not tied) was Igor 2010.

Ominous satellite image of Hurricane Gonzalo as of 9:15am EDT.  Bermuda is marked in red in the upper right corner.
Gonzalo completed the eyewall replacement cycle that I described in yesterday's update, and as is typical, it weakened slightly during the structural reorganization, then once the transition was complete, it re-intensified.  Additionally, every time an ERC occurs, the wind field expands in size (meaning that stronger winds cover more area).

Tropical storm (yellow) and hurricane (red) force wind swaths for Gonzalo since it formed through Thursday morning.  Notice how the wind field expands with time.  (NOAA)
It has also stopped moving westward, meaning that the recurvature toward Bermuda has begun.  As of 9am EDT, it's about 500 miles south-southwest of Bermuda and moving toward it at 9mph... a faster motion will begin today.  Tropical storm force winds extend up to 150 miles from the center (Bermuda is just 350 miles from those winds).

Models remain in tight agreement on the track over the next four days... it will make it closest approach to Bermuda early Friday afternoon and then make its closest approach to Newfoundland late Saturday night.  Both encounters will be quite significant.

Forecast from NHC's 8am EDT intermediate advisory. (NOAA)
As far as intensity goes, Gonzalo is still expected to be a major hurricane when it passes by Bermuda, which would be just the 4th major hurricane on record to hit Bermuda during October. The last 5 major hurricanes (and their intensities at closest approach) to pass within 100 miles of Bermuda are:
     - Fabian 2003:    120mph
     - Edna 1953:       120mph
     - Unnamed 1948: 130mph
     - Unnamed 1947: 120mph
     - Unnamed 1939: 130mph
Gonzalo could be slightly weaker than Fabian when it reaches the island, but still a major hurricane.

You will be able to monitor the storm via radar and surface observations as it approaches.  There's also a pier station with 6-minute reporting and water levels.

Stay tuned for updates, and you can always find the latest forecast and advisories from the National Hurricane Center.

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