FORT LAUDERDALE (Fla.) Hurricane Larry has been growing steadily and was slightly larger by Thursday afternoon according to the National Hurricane Center. Larry is expected to rapidly develop into a major hurricane, with winds up to 140 mph.
Larry, the fifth storm of the season, formed on Thursday. It is expected to strengthen into a major hurricane by Friday with winds of at minimum 111 mph. Its maximum sustained winds will reach 140 mph by Sunday night, making it a Category 4 hurricane.
Larry is currently coalescing in eastern central Atlantic. This area is where storms are most likely to form during peak season which runs from mid-August through late October.
It is currently moving west across the central Atlantic in the direction of the U.S. According to the five-day forecast outlook of the hurricane center, it will make a gradual turn towards the west-northwest Friday night before slowing down on Saturday. It is too early to predict where it will go beyond that.
Forecasters say conditions support rapid development.
It is located approximately 765 miles west of Africa's west coast. As of Thursday 5 p.m. ET, hurricane-force winds reached 25 miles from the center of the island and tropical-storm force winds extended to 160 miles.
If Larry becomes a major hurricane, as predicted, it would be the third season's storm, alongside Grace, a category 3, and Ida (a category 4).
According to Phil Klotzbach, a Colorado State University hurricane expert, there are only five years of satellite era that have had three major hurricanes as of Sept. 4, 2008.
Forecasters are also monitoring two other areas for possible storm development.
A low-pressure area in the western Caribbean could pass over the Gulf of Honduras Friday. The system could then move across the southwestern Gulf of Mexico over the weekend and early next week. However, upper-level winds would impede development.
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According to the hurricane center, a second low pressure area was formed late Thursday morning around 280 miles east-southeast from the Cabo Verde islands off the coast west Africa. Forecasters believe some development will be possible in the next 24 hours, as the low moves west at 15 mph. Conditions are less favorable for development after that.
Since the formation of Larry, seven named storms formed in the Atlantic between August 10 and September 1 this year. According to Klotzbach, this ties the 2011 record.
He said that this is the sixth consecutive year with 12 named storms by September 1, joining 2020, 2012 and 2011, 2005, and 1995.
AccuWeather reports that the seasons pace is well above average. The 12th named system and the second major hurricane do not usually occur until October or early October.
According to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, there are three to five major hurricanes expected this season.
There have been twelve named storms as of September 2, and five hurricanes as of Sept. 2, two of which were major hurricanes.
NOAA forecasts 7-10 hurricanes and 15-21 named storms in the Atlantic season. This means that winds of at least 39 mph are predicted by NOAA.
Mindy would be the next named storm to develop.