Hurricane Ophelia 2017 on path for Ireland and U.K.

Hurricane Ophelia got stronger on Friday morning and started to pick up a bit of speed on a path that could eventually take it over Ireland by early next week as an extratropical storm.

Ophelia, the 10th hurricane so far this year in the Atlantic, had 105 mph winds on Friday, making it a strong Category 2 hurricane.

The National Hurricane Center said Ophelia could weaken, but only slightly, over the next few days.

After barely moving for much of Thursday, Ophelia began to pick up a bit of speed on Friday morning. The storm was located about 615 miles southwest of the Azores and was moving to the east-northeast at 8 mph.

The hurricane center expected Ophelia to stay on that path today and pick up speed through Saturday. It could turn more to the northeast and speed up even more on Saturday night.

The hurricane center said on that path Ophelia would pass near or southeast of the Azores on Saturday and Saturday night, and tropical storm force winds could be possible throughout the islands on Saturday night because of an approaching front.

Ophelia’s wind field could also expand as the storm becomes extratropical, which could begin by Sunday.

Then the storm will move close to Ireland by Monday. The hurricane center said forecast models “all agree that Ophelia will track very close to the western shores of the British Isles on days 3 and 4.”

Forecasters said Ophelia could weaken some while moving near the British Isles, but “strong winds are becoming increasingly likely over portions of Ireland and United Kingdom regardless of the cyclone’s exact intensity.”

Ophelia is expected to lose the features that make it a tropical storm and become extratropical on Monday, however it will still be a powerful storm.

Forecasters said it will bring wind and heavy rain to Ireland and parts of the U.K. but “given the forecast uncertainty at these time ranges it is too soon to determine the exact magnitude, timing and location of the impacts.”

In addition to Ophelia there is another tropical wave on the board as of Friday morning.

This wave was located several hundred miles east of the Lesser Antilles and could develop more early next week.

The system is expected to move to the north of the Leeward Islands and will be moving northward over the west-central Atlantic early next week, when it may have an opportunity to develop more.

A tropical disturbance near the Lesser Antilles will move north of the islands. (NHC) 

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