Hurricane Epsilon Nearing Bermuda

The 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season charges on with the formation and rapid intensification of now Hurricane Epsilon in the Northern Atlantic Ocean.

At 8:00 AM on October 19th, the National Hurricane Center began issuing advisories on Tropical Depression 27 in the Central subtropical Atlantic Ocean. Three hours later, the depression strengthened into Tropical Storm Epsilon, becoming the earliest 26th named storm in Atlantic History. The previous record was on November 22nd, 2005. The last (and only) time Epsilon was used in 2005, it formed on November 29th.

Twelve hours later, at 11:00 PM October 19th, Epsilon became the 10th hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Hurricane Epsilon then underwent rapid intensification over the last 36 hours and became a Category 3 Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, the 4th major hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic season to date. Epsilon has weakened slightly in the lastest advisory.

Epsilon is forecast to move just east of Bermuda, still bringing tropical storm conditions to the island.

This tropical cyclone is not forecast to directly impact Trinidad, Tobago, or the Lesser Antilles.

List of names for the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season. The next named tropical cyclone will be called Zeta.

At 5:00 AM AST, the center of Hurricane Epsilon was located near latitude 30.6 North, longitude 60.9 West. Epsilon has been wobbling around since last evening, but its longer-term motion is toward the northwest near 7 mph (11 km/h). A turn toward the north-northwest is expected later today, followed by a northward motion tonight through Friday night, and an acceleration toward the northeast on Saturday. On the forecast track, the center of Epsilon is forecast to make its closest approach to, but well to the east of, Bermuda later this evening.

Maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 110 mph (175 km/h) with higher gusts. Additional weakening is forecast during the next few days. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles (35 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 310 miles (500 km). The estimated minimum central pressure is 955 millibars.

Hurricane Epsilon Forecast Track as of 5:00 AM Thursday 22nd October 2020. (National Hurricane Center)

Watches & Warnings

Hurricane Epsilon Watches and Warnings as of 5:00 AM Thursday 22nd October 2020. (National Hurricane Center)
Hurricane Epsilon Watches and Warnings as of 5:00 AM Thursday 22nd October 2020. (National Hurricane Center)

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for:

  • Bermuda

A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area.

Hazards Affecting Land

Hurricane Epsilon probabilities for tropical-storm-force winds as of 5:00 AM Thursday 22nd October 2020, as well as the most likely time of arrival of tropical-storm-force winds. (National Hurricane Center)
Hurricane Epsilon probabilities for tropical-storm-force winds as of 5:00 AM Thursday 22nd October 2020, as well as the most likely time of arrival of tropical-storm-force winds. (National Hurricane Center)

WIND: Tropical storm conditions are expected intermittently on Bermuda through this evening.

SURF: Large swells generated by Epsilon will affect Bermuda, the Bahamas, the Greater Antilles, the Leeward Islands, the east coast of the United States, and Atlantic Canada during the next few days. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions. Please consult products from your local weather office.

This system is of no direct threat to the Windward Islands, including Trinidad and Tobago.

Hurricane Epsilon Forecast Discussion

Hurricane Epsilon (Weathernerds.org)
Hurricane Epsilon (Weathernerds.org)

Epsilon’s eye has lost some definition and become cloud-filled in conventional satellite imagery during the past few hours, and an 0604 UTC AMSR2 microwave image showed that the eyewall has been eroded on the west side. Given the degradation of the cloud pattern and lowering Dvorak estimates, Epsilon’s initial intensity is being set, likely generously, at 95 kt. A recent UW-CIMSS SATCON estimate suggests that the intensity could be 10-15 kt lower than that, but I’d rather we see the aircraft reconnaissance data in a few hours before reducing it any further.

Epsilon’s trochoidal wobbles have continued overnight, but a longer-term 12-hour motion suggests that the hurricane has turned toward the northwest (320/6 kt). A mid-tropospheric high over the central Atlantic will be Epsilon’s main driver, causing the hurricane to turn toward the north-northwest later today and then toward the north tonight. Shorter-term deviations around this general trajectory will be possible if the trochoidal oscillations continue throughout the day. Epsilon is forecast to turn toward the northeast and accelerate on Saturday when it becomes embedded in the mid-latitude westerlies, taking it past southeastern Newfoundland and into the North Atlantic early next week. The new NHC track forecast is down the middle of the tightly clustered model guidance, and close to the TVCN multi-model consensus. However, because of the recent wobbles, this new forecast lies about 40 n mi to the east of the previous forecast during the first 36 hours.

Epsilon’s forecast track takes it over a rather homogeneous field of sea surface temperatures between 25-26 degrees Celsius for the next 48-60 hours as vertical shear increases somewhat. Gradual weakening is anticipated during that period, but a more sudden decrease in ocean temperatures after 60 hours should induce quicker weakening thereafter. Hurricane and global models both agree on this scenario, and the NHC intensity forecast is very close to the IVCN consensus and the HFIP Corrected Consensus. Epsilon is expected to merge with a frontal zone and become extratropical by day 4.

Key Messages for Hurricane Delta (National Hurricane Center)
Key Messages for Hurricane Epsilon (National Hurricane Center)

Key Messages:

  1. Tropical storm conditions are expected intermittently on Bermuda through this evening when Epsilon is forecast to make its closest approach east of the island. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Bermuda.
  2. Dangerous and potentially life-threatening surf and rip currents are expected along the coasts of Bermuda, the Bahamas, the Greater Antilles, the Leeward Islands, the east coast of the United States, and Atlantic Canada during the next couple of days.

Forecast discussion by NHC Forecaster Berg.

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