The entire east coast could be hit by strong rip currents this weekend as Hurricane Earl threatens Bermuda, with strong winds at least 90 mph and possibly strengthening to a Category 3 storm.
A tropical storm warning is in effect for Bermuda, meaning winds in that area are expected to reach 73 mph (118 kph), according to the National Hurricane Center. The region was under a hurricane watch that was lifted on Thursday, but forecasters expect winds to pick up Friday, the hurricane center said.
And despite the storm being hundreds of miles off the US coast, dangerous surf conditions and rip currents are expected along the east coast over the weekend. National Weather Service said.
Hurricanes have the potential to hit the east coast “even if they stay far enough away that you don’t even notice they exist,” the weather service warned.
“Hurricane Earl is such a hurricane. The largest coastal impacts will be in the mid-Atlantic and the northeast until this weekend,” the weather service said.
In particular, these types of hurricanes can create strong swells that release dangerous rip currents to local beaches and coastal areas.
Forecasters in Wilmington, North Carolina, also warned that strong swells from the hurricane could hit the area at least through Sunday, leading to “rough surf and minor coastal flooding.”
Earl moved north-northeast at about 25 mph late Thursday, and rain over Bermuda is expected to fall between 1 and 3 inches (25 to 75 mm) through Friday. The storm has already produced sustained winds of nearly 90 mph with even higher gusts, the National Hurricane Center said.
“Re-strengthening is still possible, and Earl could become a major hurricane by tomorrow (Friday),” the Hurricane Center warned.
A major hurricane is defined as a Category 3 storm or higher, meaning it would bring winds of at least 111 mph and could potentially cause significant loss of life and damage, according to the weather service. Category 3 storms can contain winds up to 129 mph. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale measures the strength of hurricanes in five categories based on their sustained wind speeds.