Tropical Storm Ophelia, the fifteenth named storm of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season, is currently located approximately 740 miles (1,190 kilometers) east-southeast of the Leeward Islands, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). Ophelia has weakened over the last 24 hours due to strong upper level winds, and the storm currently packs sustained winds of around 45 mph (75 kmph), equivalent to a weak tropical storm. Ophelia is moving to the west-northwest and a motion between the west-northwest and the northwest is expected for the next couple of days. On this forecast track, Ophelia is expected to continue to move across the Atlantic this week and pass to the northeast of the Leeward Islands early next week. The NHC said tropical storm force winds extend 260 miles (415 kilometers) from the center of the storm.
Forecasters expect the storm’s course to move between the west-northwest and the northwest over the next couple of days. This path will see Ophelia continue to move across the Atlantic and pass to the northeast of the Leeward Islands on September 25/26 without affecting the Caribbean region. The official forecast has Ophelia weakening over the next 24 hours and the NHC says Ophelia could become a tropical depression over the weekend. However, the NHC’s extended forecast has Ophelia re-strengthening into tropical storm status on September 27.
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The storm poses no immediate threat to land and it remains unclear at this stage whether it will impact the United States or Bermuda. Several long term forecast models show Ophelia taking a similar track to other recent storms in the Atlantic (including hurricanes Katia and Maria) by eventually curving away from the United States coastline before possibly heading towards Bermuda. However, there is considerable uncertainty surrounding Ophelia’s projected long term track and intensity at this time and forecasters say it is too early to determine whether the storm will threaten land.
Guy Carpenter will continue to monitor Ophelia’s progress over the next few days and update this report if there are any significant developments.
Sources: National Hurricane Center, WSI, Associated Press, Reuters News, Agence France Presse
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