The eye of Hurricane Epsilon as seen on Wednesday afternoon, October 21, 2020, when Epsilon was rapidly intensifying into a category 3 hurricane with 115 mph winds. See one of the best videos ever taken of a hurricane eye penetration, done on this mission. (Image credit: Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters)

After putting on an unexpected performance of rapid intensification, unprecedented in the central Atlantic this late in the season, Hurricane Epsilon peaked as a category 3 storm with 115 mph winds Wednesday afternoon and evening, becoming the fourth major Atlantic hurricane of this hyperactive season.

The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is now above average in every measure of activity (see Tweet by Phil Klotzbach), and has an excellent chance of breaking the all-time record for most named storms in a season (28, set in 2005).

A remarkable feat of rapid intensification so late in year

In the 24 hours ending at 2 p.m. EDT October 21, Epsilon’s winds increased from 60 mph to 110 mph and the pressure dropped 35 mb. Epsilon’s intensification feat substantially exceeded the National Hurricane Center’s definition of rapid intensification, for which the threshold is at least a 35-mph increase in winds in 24 hours. Epsilon is the sixth 2020 Atlantic hurricane to rapidly intensify:

Also see: Climate change is causing more rapid intensification of Atlantic hurricanes

Hurricane Hanna, July 24–25, 35 mph in 24 hours;
Hurricane Laura, August 26–27, 65 mph in 24 hours;
Hurricane Sally, September 14–15, 40 mph in 24 hours;
Hurricane Teddy, September 17–18, 45 mph in 24 hours;
Hurricane Delta, October 5–6, 80 mph in 24 hours; and
Hurricane Epsilon, October 20–21, 50 mph in 24 hours.

In addition, Tropical Storm Gamma rapidly intensified October 2-3, with a 35 mph increase in winds in 24 hours, giving the Atlantic seven rapidly intensifying storms this year. Hurricanes Isaias, Marco, Nana, and Paulette did not rapidly intensify. According to statistics compiled by Tomer Berg, the highest number of rapidly intensifying Atlantic storms since 1979 occurred in 1995, with 10.

As shown in the Tweet from Sam Lillo, Epsilon is the only hurricane to have such a large drop in pressure so late in the year outside of the Caribbean Sea; Epsilon is also the only hurricane to rapidly intensify by at least 45 knots (50 mph) so far north in the Atlantic so late in the year.

A tropical storm warning for Bermuda

At 11 a.m. EDT Thursday, Epsilon had weakened to a category 1 hurricane with top sustained winds of 90 mph and a central pressure of 965 mb. The hurricane was headed northwest at 7 mph toward Bermuda, which was under a tropical storm warning. The western fringes of Epsilon were bringing heavy rain showers to Bermuda, as seen on Bermuda radar, and winds were gusting near tropical storm-force at the Bermuda airport. Epsilon is expected to turn to the north-northwest well before reaching Bermuda, likely passing about 150 miles to the east of the island on Thursday night.

A large storm, Epsilon has tropical storm-force winds that extend up to 310 miles to the north of the center. The large wind field is also generating large swells, which will be affecting the U.S. East Coast, Atlantic Canada, and the north-facing shores of the Caribbean islands this week.

Figure 1. Radar image of Hurricane Epsilon at 11:24 a.m. EDT Thursday, October 22, from the Bermuda radar. (Image credit: Bermuda Weather Service)

Forecast for Epsilon

Moderate wind shear of 10-20 knots, combined with sea surface temperatures (SSTs) that will fall from 26 Celsius (79°F) on Thursday to 24 Celsius (75°F) on Saturday, will likely keep Epsilon at a steady intensity, or cause a slow weakening. On Saturday, Epsilon is expected to recurve to the northeast, and on Sunday, it may pass close and bring heavy rains to the southeastern portion of Newfoundland, Canada.

Epsilon will merge with a trough of low pressure to its north on Sunday and transition to a very powerful extratropical storm. Its central pressure on Tuesday, when it will be a few hundred miles south of Iceland, could be between 931-941 mb, according to the 0Z Thursday runs of the GFS, European, and UKMET models.

Figure 2. GeoColor satellite image of Hurricane Epsilon (upper right) and an area of disturbed weather over the western Caribbean (lower left) at 10:30 a.m. EDT Thursday, October 22. (Image credit: RAMMB/CIRA/Colorado State University)

An eye on the western Caribbean this weekend

A trough of low pressure over the western Caribbean was bringing disorganized heavy rain showers to Cuba, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and Haiti on Thursday afternoon. This system had some modest support for development from the Thursday morning runs of the GFS and European models and their ensembles, which showed it could become a tropical depression or weak tropical storm on Sunday or Monday in the western Caribbean or in the waters surrounding the Bahama Islands.

None of these model runs showed anything stronger than a weak tropical storm forming, but predicted a northeasterly track with a potential threat to Bermuda by Tuesday. Regardless of whether a tropical cyclone forms, heavy rains of 2-5 inches from this system will affect Cuba, the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, South Florida and Jamaica through Monday. In an 8 a.m. EDT Thursday tropical weather outlook, NHC gave two-day and five-day odds of development of 10% and 30%, respectively, to this system. The next name on the Atlantic list of storms is Zeta.

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Posted on October 22, 2020(1:22pm EDT).

Jeff Masters

Jeff Masters, Ph.D., worked as a hurricane scientist with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. After a near-fatal flight into category 5 Hurricane Hugo, he left the Hurricane Hunters to pursue a...

22 replies on “Epsilon approaches Bermuda as a category 1 hurricane”

  1. nws Miami (update)...1217 PM EDT Fri Oct 23 2020
    
    ...Coastal Flooding and High Rip Current Risk Atlantic Beaches...
    ...Flooding Possible in Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade Counties...
    ...A Few Strong Thunderstorms Possible Today...
    
    This hazardous weather outlook is for South Florida.
    
    .DAY ONE...THIS AFTERNOON AND TONIGHT
    
    Rip Currents: There is a high risk of Rip Currents along the Atlantic
    beaches.
    
    Coastal Flooding: Higher than normal tides could lead to minor coastal
    flooding around periods of high tide.
    
    Flooding: Heavy rainfall may lead to localized flooding, especially
    along east coast metro and coastal areas. A Flood Watch remains in
    effect.
    
    Thunderstorms: A few thunderstorms are possible. The primary hazards
    are lightning, gusty winds, and urban flooding.
    
    Wind: Gusty winds in excess of 20 to 25 knots across South Florida
    waters.
    
    Waterspouts: There is a slight chance of waterspouts over South
    Florida waters, mainly associated with thunderstorms and gusty
    showers.
    
    .DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...SATURDAY THROUGH THURSDAY
    
    A trough of low pressure in the western Caribbean is being monitored
    by the National Hurricane Center for potential tropical development
    over the next several days. This feature could provide for an
    increased chance of showers and thunderstorms this weekend. Flooding
    is the primary concern.
    
    The elevated risk of rip currents could continue over the Atlantic
    beaches through the weekend.
    
    .SPOTTER INFORMATION STATEMENT...
    
    Widespread spotter activation is not anticipated. However,
    individual spotters especially east coast metro areas are encouraged
    to report high wind, waterspouts, and flooding to the National
    Weather Service forecast office in Miami. Please relay any
    information about observed severe weather to the NWS while following
    all local, state, and CDC guidelines.
    
    For more information...visit the National Weather Service in
    Miami website at www.weather.gov/miami.
    
  2. As usual another storm 95l model showing it going everywhere but East Central Florida as usual we get nothing

  3. Japan Meteorological Agency
    Tropical Cyclone Advisory #37 – 21:00 PM JST October 23 2020
    TYPHOON SAUDEL (T2017)
    =============================================
    South China Sea
    At 12:00 PM UTC, Typhoon Saudel (970 hPa) located at 17.9N 114.2E has 10 minute sustained winds of 70 knots with gusts of 100 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west slowly.
    Storm Force Winds
    ====================
    50 nm from the center
    Gale Force Winds
    =====================
    240 nm from the center in northwestern quadrant
    120 nm from the center in southeastern quadrant
    Dvorak Intensity: T5.0-
    Forecast and Intensity
    =========================
    24 HRS: 17.5N 110.6E – 60 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm) South China Sea
    48 HRS: 17.5N 107.0E – 35 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) Gulf of Tonkin
    72 HRS: 17.7N 103.7E – Tropical Depression Over land Thailand

    ———————————————————————————————————————

    Tropical Cyclone Advisory #1 – 21:00 PM JST October 23 2020
    TROPICAL DEPRESSION
    =============================================
    Sea East of the Philippines
    At 12:00 PM UTC, Tropical Depression (1006 hPa) located at 10.7N 133.4E has 10 minute sustained winds of 30 knots. The depression is reported as moving west slowly.
    Dvorak Intensity:
    Forecast and Intensity
    =========================
    24 HRS: 12.6N 129.8E – 35 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) Sea East of the Philippines
    48 HRS: 13.6N 125.4E – 50 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm) Sea East of the Philippines
    72 HRS: 13.4N 120.6E – 50 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm) Over land Occidental Mindoro province (Luzon/Philippines)

  4. Depression (BOB03-2020) crossed West Bengal and adjoining Bangladesh coasts near 21.8N 88.5E between 6:00-7:00 AM UTC (1130 & 1230 IST) today, as a depression with maximum sustained wind speed of 45-55 km/h gusting to 65 km/h. It moved across 24 Parganas Districts of West Bengal.

    1. 10/23 and the GFS saw this 2 weeks ago, seeing something try to form right there..but in all fairness..so did the Canadian model for almost as long…models getting better on a formation in an area

  5. India Meteorological Department
    Tropical Cyclone Advisory #6 – 8:30 AM IST October 23 2020
    DEPRESSION BOB03-2020
    =============================================

    At 3:00 AM UTC, The Depression moved north northeastwards with a speed of 24 kmph during past 6 hours and lays centered near 21.3N 88.4E over northwestern Bay of Bengal off West Bengal – Bangladesh coasts, about 50 km southeast of Sagar Islands (West Bengal) and 200 km west southwest of Khepupara (Bangladesh).

    It is very likely to move north northeastwards and cross West Bengal & adjoining Bangladesh coasts between Sagar Islands (West Bengal) & Khepupara (Bangladesh) over Sundarbans around noon, today. (6:00-9:00 AM UTC/11:30-14:30 PM IST)

    As per satellite imagery, the system has intensity T1.5 and shows shear pattern. Convective clouds are sheared to the north northeast of the system center scattered low and medium clouds with embedded intense to very intense convection lays over northwestern Bay of Bengal, coastal West Bengal and Bangladesh in association with the system. Minimum cloud top temperature is -93C.

    3 minute sustained winds near the center is 25 knots with gusts of 35 knots. The estimated central pressure of the depression is 1000 hPa.

  6. Japan Meteorological Agency
    Tropical Cyclone Advisory #35 – 15:00 PM JST October 23 2020
    TYPHOON SAUDEL (T2017)
    =============================================
    South China Sea

    At 6:00 AM UTC, Typhoon Saudel (965 hPa) located at 17.9N 114.8E has 10 minute sustained winds of 75 knots with gusts of 105 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west northwest slowly.

    Storm Force Winds
    ====================
    60 nm from the center

    Gale Force Winds
    =====================
    240 nm from the center in northwestern quadrant
    120 nm from the center in southeastern quadrant

    Dvorak Intensity: T5.0

    Forecast and Intensity
    =========================
    24 HRS: 17.6N 111.4E – 65 knots (CAT 3/Strong Typhoon) South China Sea
    48 HRS: 17.6N 107.6E – 40 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) Gulf of Tonkin
    72 HRS: 17.8N 105.0E – Tropical Depression Over land Laos

  7. Japan Meteorological Agency
    Tropical Cyclone Advisory #33 – 9:00 AM JST October 23 2020
    TYPHOON SAUDEL (T2017)
    =============================================
    South China Sea

    At 0:00 AM UTC, Typhoon Saudel (965 hPa) located at 17.5N 115.3E has 10 minute sustained winds of 75 knots with gusts of 105 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west northwest slowly.

    Storm Force Winds
    ====================
    70 nm from the center

    Gale Force Winds
    =====================
    270 nm from the center in northwestern quadrant
    180 nm from the center in southeastern quadrant

    Dvorak Intensity: T5.0

    Forecast and Intensity
    =========================
    24 HRS: 17.6N 112.4E – 65 knots (CAT 3/Strong Typhoon) South China Sea
    48 HRS: 17.4N 108.5E – 45 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) Gulf of Tonkin
    72 HRS: 17.6N 105.4E – Tropical Depression Over land Laos

  8. India Meteorological Department
    Tropical Cyclone Advisory #4 – 23:30 PM IST October 22 2020
    DEPRESSION BOB03-2020
    =============================================

    At 18:00 PM UTC, The Depression moved north northeastwards with a speed of 10 km/h during past 6 hours and lays centered near 20.2N 87.6E over Northwest Bay of Bengal off Odisha coast, about 90 km east southeast of Paradip (Odisha), 170 km south southwest of Sagar Islands (West Bengal) and 340 km west southwest of Khepupara (Bangladesh).

    It is very likely to move north northeastwards and cross West Bengal & adjoining Bangladesh coasts between Sagar islands (West Bengal) & Khepupara (Bangladesh) over Sundarbans by afternoon of October 23rd.

    Forecast and Intensity
    ===========================
    12 HRS: 21.7N 88.5E – 25 knots (Depression) nearby West Bengal coasts
    24 HRS: 22.9N 89.2E – 25 knots (Depression) Over land Bangladesh
    36 HRS: 24.1N 89.9E – 25 knots (Depression)

  9. Japan Meteorological Agency
    Tropical Cyclone Advisory #31 – 3:00 AM JST October 23 2020
    TYPHOON SAUDEL (T2017)
    =============================================
    South China Sea

    At 18:00 PM UTC, Typhoon Saudel (965 hPa) located at 17.5N 115.8E has 10 minute sustained winds of 75 knots with gusts of 105 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving north northwest slowly.

    Storm Force Winds
    ====================
    70 nm from the center

    Gale Force Winds
    =====================
    270 nm from the center in northwestern quadrant
    180 nm from the center in southeastern quadrant

    Dvorak Intensity: T5.0

    Forecast and Intensity
    =========================
    24 HRS: 17.6N 113.4E – 65 knots (CAT 3/Strong Typhoon) South China Sea
    48 HRS: 17.3N 109.3E – 50 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm) South China Sea
    72 HRS: 17.6N 106.2E – Tropical Depression Over land Vietnam

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