Hurricane Epsilon expected to bring high surf to U.S. coast

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Oct. 21 — Hurricane Epsilon headed northeast away from the U.S. mainland Saturday morning, but was expected to bring high surf and rip tides to the coast.

In its 5 a.m. EDT update, the National Hurricane Center said Epsilon was on the brink of weakening to tropical storm status, with 75 mph maximum sustained winds. The storm was 355 miles north-northeast of Bermuda and 815 miles southwest of Cape Race, Newfoundland, and was moving north-northeast at 12 mph.

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Forecasters said the storm will increase in forward speed and is expected to continue to move away from Bermuda and stay off the coast of Newfoundland Island.

It’s expected to weaken to a tropical storm by early Sunday.

“Epsilon is forecast to become a large and powerful post-tropical cyclone early next week,” the NHC said.

There are no coastal watches or warnings in effect, but the NHC warned Epsilon could cause large swells effecting Bermuda, the Greater Antilles, the Leeward Islands, the U.S. East Coast and Atlantic Canadian coast over the next few days.

“These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions,” the advisory said.

The 26th storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season strengthened into a hurricane on Tuesday night and continued to rapidly intensify throughout the remainder of the night and early on Wednesday.

On Wednesday afternoon, it became the fourth major hurricane of the season when its maximum sustained winds peaked at 115 mph. Hurricane-force winds extended outward from the storm’s center by about 25 miles, but tropical-storm force winds extended even farther out from the center at about 310 miles.

For the second time in recorded history, the Atlantic Basin spawned a storm named Epsilon on Monday, within 3 hours after it developed into a tropical depression.

The only other Epsilon in history was an unusually late storm, and it formed just before the official end of hurricane season on Nov. 30 in the open Atlantic Ocean on Nov. 29, 2005. It went on to strengthen into Hurricane Epsilon on Dec. 2. By the time winds subsided back below hurricane strength on Dec. 7, it had become the longest-lived December hurricane on record.

The formation of Epsilon brought this season even closer to the record of 28 named storms set in 2005 — the only other year to use the Greek alphabet to name storms. Epsilon is the 10th hurricane to develop in the basin this season.

Epsilon formed in 2020 over a month earlier than the previous record holder. Now, only one Greek letter, Zeta, that has been used before to name a tropical system will remain on the list for the next tropical storm that brews. After that, should storms continue to form through the end of the year, it would be uncharted territory.

AccuWeather is rating Epsilon less than one on the AccuWeather RealImpact Scale for Hurricanes for Bermuda. The scale was created by the company in 2019 to offer a more comprehensive outlook for tropical storm and hurricane impacts than the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

The fall of 2014 was also the last and only time that Bermuda endured two direct hits from hurricanes in the same season, when Hurricane Fay made landfall in Bermuda less than a week before Gonzalo.

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