The NOAA National Hurricane Center's latest storm path shows Ophelia reaching the coast of Portugal by late Sunday night as a post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-strength winds. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Ophelia is expected to become a hurricane by Wednesday. On average through this date, we only have nine named storms - five hurricanes and two major hurricanes.
Forecasters expect Ophelia to continue to slowly move on a northeast track before accelerating toward Europe.
Gradual strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Ophelia is expected to become a hurricane by Thursday, Oct. 12 and is expected to turn toward the northwest.
Forecasters say Ophelia is beginning to look like a hurricane on satellite images but hasn't quite reached hurricane status yet. It is possible that this has happened since 1893, but we didn't have the technology to see it. Hurricane Season does not officially end until November 30th.
It is unlikely Ophelia makes a direct hit on the Azores, but, at a minimum, some outer rain bands and gusty winds could impact eastern portions of the Portuguese archipelago this weekend.
Center officials said the hurricane is forecast to drift northeastward over the next 24 hours. On Wednesday afternoon, hurricane-force winds from Ophelia extended outward up to 25 miles from its center. Only 15 known hurricanes have passed within 200 nautical miles of the Azores since 1851.
Earlier forecasts had suggested Ophelia could approach Spain and Portugal's Iberian Peninsula as a tropical system, which would have been unprecedented.