Hurricane Lorenzo is more than 2,500 miles away from Florida’s East Coast, but the massive Category 5 hurricane is still set to send waves across the Atlantic this weekend.
“Increasing onshore winds and wave chop, coupled with building very long period swells from large and distant major Hurricane Lorenzo will impact the surf zone from Sunday well into next week,” said forecasters at the National Weather Service in Melbourne. “This will result in increasingly hazardous seas and surf, as well as a high risk for life threatening rip currents once again for several days.”
Hurricane Lorenzo is the second largest hurricane of the 2019 Atlantic season behind Category 5 Hurricane Dorian.
As of 10:10 p.m. Saturday the National Hurricane Center said in a special advisory Lorenzo has become a Category 5 hurricane with 160 ,mph winds become the largest hurricane ever for this region of the Atlantic Ocean. It was located 1,420 miles southwest of the Azores islands moving north at 10 mph.
The storm grew quickly on Thursday reaching major hurricane status in the morning with 130 mph winds and intensifying throughout the day to reach what forecasters said would be its strongest intensity Thursday night hitting 145 mph sustained winds. It began to drop intensity Friday, dialing back to 140 mph at 11 a.m., then down to a Category 3 hurricane at 5 p.m. with 120 mph winds and even more overnight down to 115 mph winds on Saturday morning. As of 5 p.m., the NHC reported the storm had grown back to Category 4 status and even more so by 8 p.m. back up to 145 mph. The wind field is massive with hurricane-force winds extending out 50 miles and tropical-storm-force winds out 275 miles.
Its projected path keeps it well away from the western Atlantic, set to turn to the northeast on Sunday. But the NHC said swells from Lorenzo were already making their way to the coasts of South America and Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean, and expected to hit Bermuda, the Bahamas the U.S. as well as the Azores this week.
The path does make it a threat to the Azores this week, although forecasters said it will reduce in intensity and only be a Category 2 hurricane with 110 mph winds by Tuesday and then down to a Category 1 hurricane with 85 mph winds on Wednesday when its path has it moving across or near the eastern Atlantic islands.
“Despite the expected decrease in intensity, the hurricane is not forecast to decrease in size, and in fact Lorenzo’s hurricane-force wind field could increase further by next week,” said NHC hurricane specialist David Zalinsky. “Because of that, users are urged to not focus on the exact intensity of Lorenzo since the cyclone will likely remain a powerful storm well into next week.”
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Karen dissipated on Friday, dropping to Tropical Depression Karen by 11 a.m. and then falling apart by 11 p.m. The hurricane center has ceased advisories on Karen.