The tropics are heating up: Hurricane Fiona is Cat.  4, the gulf coast keeps an eye on the wave

The tropics are heating up: Hurricane Fiona is Cat. 4, the gulf coast keeps an eye on the wave

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The 2022 Atlantic hurricane season is heating up.

The National Hurricane Center is currently monitoring two named storms swirling in the Atlantic along with three other areas of interest.

After hitting the Turks and Caicos Islands, Hurricane Fiona, the first major hurricane of the season, upgraded to a Category 4 storm Wednesday morning, while Tropical Storm Gaston, the other named storm, strengthened.

Forecasters are also keeping a close eye on a tropical wave moving westward toward the Caribbean as well as two other disturbances.

Here’s what you need to know.

Hurricane Fiona

As of 11 a.m. Wednesday, Fiona was about 675 miles southwest of Bermuda with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph, making it a Category 4 hurricane. It was moving north at 8 mph with winds of hurricane strength extending outward up to 45 miles from the center of the storm.

The forecast track shows the storm moving away from the Turks and Caicos Islands on Wednesday and turning to the north-northeast and approaching Bermuda Thursday evening.

Forecasters say Fiona could fluctuate in intensity Wednesday night and Thursday, and tropical storm conditions could reach Bermuda Thursday night. The storm is expected to be a hurricane-force cyclone
until Saturday, the NHC said.

Fiona could dump 1 to 4 inches of rain over parts of the Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos Islands, southeastern Bahamas and Bermuda.

It is not expected to threaten the continental United States, but swell from the storm will continue to spread towards the Bahamas and the eastern seaboard of the United States and will likely reach Bermuda on Thursday. The swell could cause life-threatening surf and rip conditions in Bermuda, the NHC said.

A hurricane watch and tropical storm warning are in effect for Bermuda.

Tropical Storm Gaston

At 5 a.m., Tropical Storm Gaston was about 775 miles west of the Azores with maximum sustained winds at 65 mph. It was moving northeast at 16 mph with tropical storm-force winds extending outward up to 70 miles from the center of the storm.

Gaston is expected to turn northeast on Wednesday, then east on Thursday. It could strengthen on Wednesday but is expected to weaken later as it stalls near the western Azores. The storm should not become a hurricane.

Gaston’s swell could hit the Azores later in the week and cause life-threatening surf and rip conditions, the NHC said.

Tropical wave in the Atlantic

The NHC says a tropical wave in the western tropical Atlantic has a 70% chance of developing into a tropical depression within the next two days and a 90% chance of developing within the next five days.

The disturbance is currently located a few hundred kilometers east of the Southern Windward Islands and continues to show signs of organization, according to the center.

The system is expected to move towards the Caribbean later this week, and some forecast models show it reaching the Gulf of Mexico.

Storm Team 8 meteorologist Rebecca Barry predicts there will be a system in the gulf by the middle of next week, but said it was too early to say where it will make landfall.

Other Areas to Watch

The hurricane center is also monitoring a tropical wave located several hundred kilometers west-southwest of the Cape Verde Islands. It has a low 30% chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm within the next five days.

There is another tropical wave expected to move off the west coast of Africa. It has a 50% chance of becoming a depression or tropical storm within the next five days.

Tracking Tropics streams at 2 p.m. ET every Wednesday during hurricane season. For the latest updates, check our Tracking the Tropics website.

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