MIAMI (AP) — Epsilon rapidly intensified into a major hurricane, forecasters said Wednesday afternoon.
The Category 3 storm is likely to miss Bermuda, yet its effects may still be felt there, so the island is under a tropical storm warning.
With 115 mph winds, Epsilon gained 50 mph in wind speed in just 24 hours, officially qualifying as a rapidly intensifying storm. It is the seventh storm this season to power up this quickly.
Over the past couple decades, meteorologists have been increasingly worried about storms that blow up from nothing to a whopper, just like Epsilon. Forecasters created an official threshold for this dangerous rapid intensification — a storm gaining 35 mph in wind speed in just 24 hours.
Epsilon is expected to make its closest approach to the island on Thursday afternoon or evening, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. Residents have been urged to closely monitor the storm.
Large swells generated by Epsilon are already affecting Bermuda, the Bahamas, the Greater Antilles, and the Leeward Islands, and are expected to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions along the coast of New England and Atlantic Canada during the next couple of days.
The Miami-based hurricane center said Epsilon was located about 340 miles east-southeast of Bermuda, and was moving northwest at 10 mph.
This year’s hurricane season has had so many storms that the Hurricane Center has turned to the Greek alphabet for storm names after running out of official names.
Epsilon also represents a record for the earliest 26th named storm, arriving more than a month before a storm on Nov. 22 in 2005, according to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach.