Just days after Hurricane Ida left a stunning, cross-state trail of destruction, forecasters on Sunday kept a watchful eye on yet another storm steaming across the Atlantic that could be even more violent.
Larry, now a Category 3 hurricane, could potentially intensify into a Category 4 storm by Sunday, Accuweather forecasters said. A Category 4 hurricane, such as Ida was when it landed in Louisiana, has received winds of 130 to 156 miles per hour. If Larry’s sustained winds rise above 250 mph, it would be the strongest storm in the Atlantic this year – even stronger than Ida, Accuweather said.
The storm was expected to ravage the open waters of the Atlantic for a few more days, but it could approach Bermuda by mid-week and move close to North America, Accuweather said. “At this point, the most likely Larry is missing the United States and staying a few hundred miles off the northeast coast,” Accuweather said.
Still, much of the US eastern coast could feel Larry’s effects by mid-week: Large waves from the storm will “likely cause life-threatening surf and current conditions,” the hurricane center said.
Larry was about 830 miles east of the Northern Leeward Islands on Sunday afternoon, moving northwest at 13 miles an hour. The maximum sustained winds were 125 miles per hour, with higher gusts, the National Hurricane Center said.
“A small change in strength is forecast for the next few days, although fluctuations in intensity are possible. Larry is expected to remain a major hurricane through the middle of this week,” the center said.
The storm is a large hurricane, the center said: hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles from the center and tropical-force winds extend outward up to 275 miles.
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There was a chance Larry could track west enough to sail near or over Bermuda, AccuWeather’s chief meteorologist Randy Adkins said. “As things stand, however, it is likely that Larry will still land far enough east to spare Bermuda the brunt of the storm.”
Larry became the fifth hurricane – and the third major hurricane – in an already harsh hurricane season in the Atlantic last week: 12 named storms. The season runs from June 1st to November 30th; the high point is Friday.
“We’re way ahead of schedule, especially with named storms,” Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach told USA TODAY. On average, there are typically about six named storms by Aug. 31, which include both tropical storms and hurricanes, he said.
The USA is also ahead of the number of storms that hit land, said Klotzbach. We had five: Danny, Elsa, Fred, Henri and Ida. Based on past averages, the typical number of landings during this period is two, Klotzbach said.
Leading hurricane forecasts from AccuWeather and Weather.com agree that 2021 will see above-average activity.
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Larry could hold out well into the second week of September and become the longest-lived named system this season, Accuweather said.
In the south-east struck by Ida, forecasters observed a shower system that would slowly move north or north-east across the southwestern Gulf of Mexico on Sunday and then across the western or central Gulf. Winds in the upper level were expected to be “marginally conducive” to tropical cyclone formation, the hurricane center said, but slow development is possible. Even in the absence of tropical development, the system could bring heavy rains during the week.
Contributors: Dinah Powder, Doyle Rice