Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Ophelia became the fourth hurricane of the 2011 Atlantic season, prompting a tropical storm watch in Bermuda as its winds reached 75 miles (121 kilometers) per hour and threatened to grow stronger.
Ophelia is a Category 1 hurricane on the five-step Saffir- Simpson scale and is about 770 miles south-southeast of Bermuda, where winds of 39 mph may arrive in two days, according to a 5 p.m. New York time center advisory.
“Some additional strengthening is forecast during the next day or so,” the center said.
Ophelia is one of 16 storms that have formed in the Atlantic this year, making this an above-average season. The typical Atlantic season, which lasts from June 1 to Nov. 30, produces 11 named storms with winds of at least 39 mph, according to the hurricane center.
The hurricane should track far enough to the east of Bermuda so that the strongest winds may only be about 45 mph, Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground Inc., wrote on his blog.
“We can’t rule out the possibility that Bermuda will receive hurricane-force winds yet, but the odds are low,” wrote Masters in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Ophelia’s hurricane strength winds of at least 74 mph extend 25 miles from its center. Its tropical storm-strength winds reach out 175 miles.
There is a 40 percent chance that Bermuda and southern Newfoundland will be struck by tropical storm force, according to a hurricane center projection.
To the east of Ophelia, Tropical Storm Philippe churned in the Atlantic about 1,210 miles east of the Leeward Islands, which includes the U.S. Virgin Islands, with winds of 45 mph, according to the center. It is moving northwest at 13 mph.
The hurricane center’s latest track forecast has it holding together as a tropical storm into early next week as it continues east across the ocean. Earlier today it was expected to weaken to a tropical depression.
In the Pacific, Tropical Storm Hilary strengthened and now has top winds of 50 mph, up from 45 mph earlier today, as it moves north-northwest at 9 mph, according to the center. The storm is 695 miles west of Baja California.
--Editors: Richard Stubbe, Dan Stets
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