Tropical Storm Fiona is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane with top winds of 75 mph by the time the storm approaches the Bahamas, according to the 11 a.m. Friday update from the National Hurricane Center.
The storm could reach Category 1 hurricane strength, which means winds of at least 74 mph, by Wednesday. At that point, the storm’s center is expected to be somewhere in a broad area that encompasses the southern Bahamas and points east and west. It is considered unlikely to threaten Florida, according to the National Weather Service.
Fiona would be the third hurricane of the Atlantic hurricane season, which so far has been less active than forecasters predicted. It’s unclear whether the storm could strengthen beyond 75 mph, since that level of intensity occurs at the end of the National Hurricane Center’s five-day forecast period.
The hurricane center said the storm should strengthen as it enters an area of increased humidity and lower wind shear, the high-level winds that can disrupt a storm’s structure.
“Fiona could be very near hurricane strength as it approaches the southern coast of the Dominican Republic,” the hurricane center said. “The terrain of Hispaniola is likely to disrupt Fiona’s circulation, but the global models suggest that Fiona shouldn’t have much trouble reorganizing itself once over the far southwestern Atlantic, and the NHC forecast now calls for the cyclone to become a hurricane by the end of the 5-day forecast period.”