Hurricane Ophelia’s Path: Will It Brush the Azores This Weekend?

Hurricane Ophelia remains a Category 2 hurricane and remains no threat to the United States, but could potentially brush parts of the Azores this weekend. Ophelia will likely bring a blast of strong winds early next week to Ireland and perhaps the United Kingdom as a powerful post-tropical low-pressure system.

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Current Storm Status

(The highest cloud tops, corresponding to the most vigorous convection, are shown in the brightest red colors. Clustering, deep convection around the center is a sign of a healthy tropical cyclone. )

  • Ophelia is the 10th straight Atlantic named storm to become a hurricane.
  • This ties the record for the most consecutive Atlantic named storms to reach hurricane strength.
  • Ophelia could brush by the Azores this weekend.
  • Ophelia will then become a post-tropical cyclone early next week and could bring high winds to parts of Ireland and the U.K.

Hurricane Ophelia’s forward speed has begun to increase and it will continue to accelerate toward the east-northeast just south of the Azores by this weekend.

Depending on its exact track, tropical-storm-force winds are possible in the Azores by Saturday night. At a minimum, some outer rain bands and gusty winds could impact eastern portions of the Portuguese archipelago this weekend.

Ophelia is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 2 to 4 inches over the southeastern Azores Saturday and Saturday night, which could lead to flooding.

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Projected Path

(The red-shaded area denotes the potential path of the center of the tropical cyclone. Note that impacts (particularly heavy rain, high surf, coastal flooding) with any tropical cyclone may spread beyond its forecast path.)

Only 15 hurricanes have passed within 200 nautical miles of the Azores since 1851, according to NOAA’s historical hurricane database. All of those occurred in August or September, except for Hurricane Fran in October 1973 and Hurricane Alex in January 2016, which made landfall shortly after weakening to a tropical storm.

The NHC forecasts Ophelia to transition into a post-tropical cyclone by Sunday night or Monday – but with winds remaining at or above hurricane force – as it curls northeast, then northward well off the Iberian Peninsula (Portugal and Spain).

The post-tropical cyclone is then expected to pass near Ireland early next week.

Ophelia is expected to weaken some while it tracks near Ireland, but strong winds are becoming increasingly likely over portions of Ireland and the United Kingdom.

This could bring a blast of high winds to the Emerald Isle beginning Monday. Portions of the United Kingdom could also be impacted by Ophelia’s strong winds.

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Ophelia to Approach Ireland?

(Impacts in Ireland and the U.K. will depend on the track of Ophelia. Darker purple and red shadings depict stronger winds associated with Ophelia on Monday.)

Details on the severity of impacts in Ireland and the U.K. will depend on the exact track of the powerful low-pressure system in relation to those countries.

Met Eireann has issued a yellow weather advisory for Ireland on Monday as they note that the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia have the potential to be a high-impact event in parts of the country.

The U.K. Met Office has issued a yellow warning for wind for Monday for portions of Northern Ireland, western Scotland, Wales and far western England. This warning indicates that some transportation delays are possible and there is a slight chance of power outages, damage to buildings and large waves.

Check back with for additional details on forecast impacts in Ireland and U.K.

Record-Tying 10th Consecutive Atlantic Hurricane

Ophelia is the 10th consecutive Atlantic named storm to become a hurricane in 2017.

This ties the record for the most consecutive Atlantic named storms reaching hurricane strength, which also happened in three other years: 1878, 1886 and 1893, according to Dr. Phil Klotzbach, Colorado State University tropical meteorologist.

There are a couple of caveats to this record, however.

“Lee could easily be counted as two storms,” tweeted Brenden Moses, a University of Miami hurricane researcher specializing in the historical hurricane database.

After briefly becoming a tropical storm, Lee degenerated into a remnant low on Sept. 18 about halfway between West Africa and the Lesser Antilles. Four days later, Lee sprung back to life as a tropical cyclone and eventually strengthened to a Category 3 hurricane on Sept. 27.

Moses later tweeted that if separated, there would be a tropical storm, then a separate hurricane, which would make the 10-straight-hurricane record invalid. This type of post-analysis occurs after every hurricane season, sometimes leading to the addition of previously unnamed storms or tweaking of tropical cyclone intensities.

The other disclaimer about tropical cyclones before satellites were routinely used to examine the entire tropical Atlantic Basin in 1966 is that some tropical storms – even hurricanes – may have been missed that could have influenced any streaks, especially in the 19th century.


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