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Ophelia Becomes Season's Fourth Hurricane
Hurricane Ophelia and Tropical Storm Phillipe are captured in this GOES-13 western hemisphere image acquired on September 28, 2011 at 1745z.
Credit: NOAA

Tropical Storm Ophelia became Hurricane Ophelia this afternoon (Sept. 29), making it the fourth hurricane of the 2011 Atlantic season.

Ophelia is currently about 770 miles (1,235 kilometers) south-southeast of Bermuda. The storm could potentially become a threat to the island this weekend.

The storm has maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph), just above the hurricane threshold, making it a Category 1 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane strength. The storm could strengthen further over the next 24 hours, according to hurricane forecasters.

Ophelia first became a tropical storm late last week, then weakened into a tropical depression on Sunday (Sept. 25). Signs that the storm could re-form were seen in satellite images on Tuesday.

Ophelia was the 15th named storm of the 2011 season, followed by number 16, Tropical Storm Phillipe, which is still swirling over the open Atlantic basin. The two can be seen in the NOAA satellite image above. The 2011 season was predicted to be a doozy, with 14 to 19 named storms (which include tropical storms and hurricanes), seven to 10 hurricanes and three to five major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher). So far there have been 16 named storms, three hurricanes (Irene, Katia and Maria) and two major hurricanes (Irene and Katia).