Humberto reaches Category 2 intensity, further strengthening forecast

Renee Duff

Hurricane Humberto reached Category 2 strength on Tuesday morning and is expected to track close enough to Bermuda to unleash heavy rain, strong winds and pounding seas during the middle of this week.

As of 11 a.m. EDT Tuesday, Humberto was located about 525 miles west-southwest of Bermuda and moving east-northeast at 8 mph with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph. The storm is expected to continue to strengthen into Wednesday as it stirs rough surf along the East coast of the United States. A tropical storm warning and a hurricane watch have been issued for Bermuda.

An upper-level disturbance moving off the East coast will continue to steer Humberto to the east through much of this week, according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Rathbun.

AccuWeather meteorologists expect an eventual turn to the northeast late in the week.

This path will take Humberto dangerously close to Bermuda around the middle and later part of the week.

"Interests in Bermuda should prepare for a close encounter with major hurricane," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.

"Even if Humberto only delivers a glancing blow to the islands, an uptick in showers, thunderstorms and winds are likely from Wednesday into Thursday," he added.

Swells will build, and rip currents will become stronger and more frequent than usual from Tuesday into Wednesday as Humberto tracks toward Bermuda.

There will be an increased danger for beach, fishing and cruise activities in the area during this time. Small craft operators and swimmers should heed all advisories as they are given.

On Humberto's closest approach to Bermuda around midweek, the storm is expected to be a Category 2 hurricane. However, this assumes some weakening after the storm peaks on Wednesday. Any southward shift in the storm track could bring hurricane-force winds to the islands.

Bermuda's building codes require dwellings to withstand sustained wind speeds of 110 mph (177 km/h), which is the equivalent of a high-end Category 2 hurricane. A majority of properties are made of stone and mortar. As a result, structural damage is likely to be minimal with Humberto, even if its center passes very close to or over Bermuda.

Humberto spins over the open Atlantic as it gains strength on Tuesday, Sept 17, 2019. (Image/NOAA)

However, Humberto's strong winds can toss around loose items like toys and cause them to become potentially deadly projectiles around midweek. Power outages will also be possible.

"How severe conditions become and the potential for coastal flooding and battering waves will depend on the exact track and strength of Humberto," Sosnowski said.

A scenario that brings Humberto directly over or just to the northwest of Bermuda would bring the most adverse conditions to the area. This would put at least a portion of the islands in the strongest parts of the storm, its eye wall and northeastern quadrant.

While Humberto is expected to pick up speed on its closest approach to Bermuda, too much rain may fall too quickly and result in urban flooding.

A waterspout cannot be ruled out.

Conditions are forecast to dramatically improve across the islands later Thursday into Friday as Humberto tracks farther to the north and northeast.

AccuWeather meteorologists will be monitoring any potential impacts from Humberto in Atlantic Canada during the upcoming weekend. However, at this point, the risk of the storm directly impacting the area is low.

As Humberto cruises the western Atlantic, swells propagating outward from the hurricane will produce rough surf and strong rip currents along the East Coast of the United States.

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