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Hurricane Franklin ‘wobbles’, changes speed on approach

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Hurricane Franklin's predicted path as at midday on August 27 (Image courtesy of the Bermuda Weather Service)

Hurricane Franklin is forecast to continue to strengthen as the system approaches the island, potentially reaching Category 4 before it weakens on its way north.

As of midday today, the Bermuda Weather Service estimated that the closest point of approach within the next three days would be 130 miles to the island’s northwest at noon on Wednesday.

The BWS warned that the storm could still come closer to the island after that period.

Franklin is expected to strengthen today and could reach Category 4 status with winds of about 130mph tomorrow night.

The system is predicted to weaken again, passing Bermuda as a Category 2 at its anticipated closest point of approach.

A small craft warning is in effect from Monday night until Tuesday night, and the BWS said a tropical storm warning will likely be in effect for Wednesday “with the low possibility of a hurricane watch as well”.

The weather service added: “This will then be augmented by a small craft warning as strong winds and rough seas linger through Thursday.”

A BWS forecast this morning said: “Monday sees the approach of then major Hurricane Franklin though latest guidance has pushed back the onset of winds even further.

“An outflow boundary ahead of Franklin is still poised to move over the area later on Monday bringing a few showers with the low chance of thunder per instability indices.”

It added: “Tuesday then sees Franklin beginning to draw nearer to the island especially during the night.

“Although winds and seas significantly increase during the period, not much rainfall is anticipated as a dry slot between the outflow boundary and Franklin is forecast to move over the area.

“It should be noted that outflow boundaries are difficult to forecast and showers and thunderstorms may develop on Tuesday to a greater extent than currently forecast.”

Winds were expected to reach 23mph to 29mph on Tuesday morning and could be up to 40mph by Tuesday night.

The BWS said: “Seas become rough Monday night and dangerous swells and rip currents continue.

“Seas then rapidly build very rough overnight on Tuesday peaking near 16ft.”

It added: “Wednesday sees the closest approach of Hurricane Franklin, which would make its nearest pass as a Category 2 hurricane sometime on Wednesday.

“Although model track and intensity guidance continue to be in good alignment, Franklin continues to defy them with wobbles and change of speeds which has resulted in a later arrival.

“There remains some minor disagreement between the global models and as such a blended approach continues to be used.”

At midday today, the National Hurricane Centre advised that air force hurricane hunters found Franklin “a little stronger” and warned: “Interests in Bermuda should monitor the progress of this system.”

Expected arrival time of Hurricane Franklin winds as at midday on August 27 (Image courtesy of the National Hurricane Centre)

It added: “Swells generated by Franklin are expected to begin affecting Bermuda by tonight.

“These swells are also likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions beginning late today through the beginning of this week along portions of the east coast of the United States.”

Franklin is one of several systems being watched in the Atlantic this week.

The NHC noted that satellite images of the eastern Caribbean Sea have shown an area of low pressure becoming better organised with increased thunderstorm activity and better defined circulation had this afternoon been classified as a tropical depression.

“The depression is nearly stationary, and little overall movement is expected through Sunday,” the NHC said. “A slow, generally northward, motion is expected to begin on Monday. On the forecast track, the centre will move into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico by Monday.”

Meteorologists were also monitoring a low-pressure system about midway between Cabo Verde and the northern Leeward Islands, which could develop in the coming days.

The NHC estimated that there was a 20 per cent chance the system would become a tropical depression by Monday morning and a 30 per cent chance the system would turn tropical in the next week.

The 2023 hurricane season has been forecast to be busier than usual as warmer-than-normal water offsets El Niño, a weather phenomenon known to limit hurricane development in the Atlantic.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast 14 to 21 named storms this season, of which between six and 11 could reach hurricane strength.

Of those storms, it is estimated two to five could become major hurricanes reaching at least Category 3 strength with winds of 111mph or greater.

• UPDATE: This article has been updated with the latest information.

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Published August 27, 2023 at 10:17 am (Updated August 27, 2023 at 12:22 pm)

Hurricane Franklin ‘wobbles’, changes speed on approach

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