Hurricane Franklin forecast to become a major hurricane on Monday; Tropical Storm Idalia approaches Gulf

Webb, Robin/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/TNS

As Tropical Storm Idalia moved toward the Gulf of Mexico Sunday, forecasters were monitoring other systems, including a Category 2 Hurricane Franklin — which is now forecast to become a major hurricane on Monday, meaning Category 3 or above.

Hurricane Franklin, located less than 535 miles west-southwest of Bermuda as of 11 a.m. Sunday, was moving north-northeast at about 8 mph, with sustained wind speeds nearing 100 mph.

Bermuda is currently on the southern edge of the cone representing the possible track of the eye of the storm. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles.

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If Franklin strengthens as predicted, it would be the season’s first major hurricane. Franklin, the second hurricane of the Atlantic season, is forecast to move along the Atlantic near Bermuda and curve away from the U.S.

Hurricane Don formed in late July but was no threat to land.

Franklin is expected to move west of Bermuda on Monday and Tuesday. Swells from the storm could affect Bermuda by tonight will impact the east coast of the U.S. later this week with life-threatening surf and rip currents.

Tropical wave off coast of Africa

Forecasters are also monitoring a tropical wave forecast to move off the west coast of Africa early next week. As of 2 p.m. Sunday, it had a 20% chance of forming in the next seven days.

The National Hurricane Center has been predicting an “above-normal” 2023 hurricane season as a result of ongoing record-breaking sea surface temperatures that continue to fight off the tempering effects of El Niño.

While sea surface temperatures have remained hot for longer than anticipated, El Niño’s effects, which typically reduce hurricane chances, have emerged more slowly.

The NHC, which operates under the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, has forecast 14-21 named storms, including 6-11 hurricanes, and two to five major hurricanes.