Hurricane Igor strengthened rapidly over the Atlantic Ocean on Sunday, becoming a large and dangerous Category 4 storm as it spun menacingly westward.
Igor, capable of causing catastrophic damage, posed no imminent threat to land or energy interests, but the US National Hurricane Center said Igor was still intensifying with top sustained winds of 240kph and could have become a Category 5 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity by yesterday.
“Igor continues to intensify at a rapid pace,” the Miami-based hurricane center said.
Behind Igor, the hurricane center said Tropical Storm Julia developed over the far eastern Atlantic Ocean on Sunday, becoming the 10th named storm of this year’s Atlantic hurricane season.
The hurricane center said Hurricane Igor was located about 1,620km east of the Caribbean’s northern Leeward Islands.
Igor was moving west and was expected to turn toward the west-northwest and slow its pace by late yesterday or today.
“Some fluctuation in intensity is likely during the next 48 hours ... and Igor could become a Category 5 hurricane on Monday,” the center said.
Computer models project Igor, which became the fourth hurricane of the Atlantic season late on Saturday, would stay in the Atlantic for the coming days and not enter the Gulf of Mexico, where US oil and gas operations are clustered.
Veteran forecaster Jeff Masters said on Sunday on his Weather Underground blog that Igor may threaten Bermuda, but had only a small chance of making landfall on the US East Coast or in Canada.
However, Masters and other forecasters said it was still too early to make any definitive predictions about Igor’s long-term fate.