Gonzalo becomes major hurricane over Atlantic

2014-10-15 13:29
Hurricane Gonzalo which forecasters said could become a powerful category 4 storm as it heads toward Bermuda. (Noaa, AP)

Hurricane Gonzalo which forecasters said could become a powerful category 4 storm as it heads toward Bermuda. (Noaa, AP)

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San Juan - Hurricane Gonzalo strengthened to become a major Category 3 hurricane on Tuesday as it moved away from the northern Caribbean and headed toward Bermuda, the US National Hurricane Centre said.

The centre of Gonzalo was moving northwest, away from the British and US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, prompting storm alerts for those areas to be lifted.

Most forecasts showed Gonzalo posing no threat to the mainland United States and moving further north into the Atlantic. It could hit Bermuda late on Friday, and the island was put under a hurricane watch.

Gonzalo is the sixth hurricane of the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season, which runs through the end of November. Forecasters in August predicted lower-than-usual activity for the season, with seven to 12 named storms and no more than two reaching major hurricane status.

Gonzalo was about 1 135km south of Bermuda late on Tuesday and packed sustained winds reaching 205km/h, the centre said.

A major hurricane is considered to be Category 3 or above with winds hitting at least 178km/h.

"Gonzalo has a good chance of becoming the Atlantic's first Category 4 hurricane since 2 October 2011", when Hurricane Ophelia's winds reached 225km/h, according to Jeff Masters, a hurricane expert with private forecaster Weather Underground.

Gonzalo would likely begin weakening by late on Thursday, but could still reach Bermuda "anywhere between a Category 1 and Category 3 storm", he wrote in a blog post.

Forecast models showed it passing within 48 to 129km of the island on Friday.

The Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico experienced only light to moderate rain and wind gusts on Tuesday, and no significant damage or loss of power was reported.

Read more on:    puerto rico  |  weather

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