Azores on hurricane alert as Ophelia strengthens


Ophelia is the record 10th consecutive storm in the Atlantic this season to reach hurricane intensity, following on from the devastation of Harvey, Irma, Jose, Katia and Maria in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.

Ophelia is the only named storm on the board, and there no other areas of interest as of Thursday morning.

According to JLT Re's Hurricane Activity report, as of 8am Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) today (13 October) Ophelia had strengthened to a Cat 2 Hurricane, with peak wind speeds of 104 miles per hour.

Ophelia is tracking slowly north-eastwards towards the British Isles and is expected to maintain hurricane strength before weakening slightly to a storm as it passes over the cooler waters which surround the UK.

The storm, which is now a Category 2, was initially not thought to be a land threat, swirling far from the American and European coastlines in the middle of the Atlantic.

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A strong tropical wave several hundred miles east of the Lesser Antilles is "producing disorganised showers and thunderstorms", according to the NOAA's National Hurricane Center.

Although the cooler waters around Ireland and the United Kingdom mean the storm won't have the same power that some of the season's earlier storms gained in the Caribbean, the unusual trajectory could lead to one of the worst storms Ireland has seen in many years.

Ophelia is forecast to transition to an extratropical storm by Monday - but it could still be at hurricane strength as it moves very close to Ireland and Great Britain on Monday and Tuesday, the hurricane center said.

The U.K.'s Met Office has done the same.