The National Hurricane Center says late season Hurricane Epsilon has become a strong Category 1 storm and has set some impressive records in doing so.
Forecasters say Epsilon has maximum sustained winds of about 150 kilometers per hour (kph). At last report, the storm was still about 650 kilometers east to southeast of Bermuda and approaching. But forecasters say it is likely Bermuda will be sideswiped by Epsilon when it makes its closest pass sometime late Thursday.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) researcher Sam Lillo has been monitoring Epsilon's progress over the last 24 hours and says what makes Epsilon significant is the speed at which it has strengthened. Lilo says early Tuesday, Epsilon was a 72 kph tropical storm; by early Wednesday, it had become a hurricane with 150 kph winds.
Lillo says that no storm that far northeast has strengthened that fast so late in the hurricane season before. He noted seven other storms underwent rapid intensification this year, including the last three in succession, Gamma, Delta, and now Epsilon.
Forming in the southern Caribbean earlier this month, Delta went from a tropical depression with 56 kph winds to a major Category 4 hurricane with 233 kph winds in just over a day - faster than any storm on record.
Hurricanes undergo rapid intensification when there is the right combination of weak upper-level winds and warm ocean surface temperatures.
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.
Forecasters say Epsilon is the 26th named storm to have formed in the Atlantic this year, and the earliest that a 26th named storm has formed in any given year. The previous record for a 26th Atlantic named storm formation was by November 22 - Delta in 2005.