Strengthening Hurricane Erin bears down on Bermuda
MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- The first Atlantic hurricane of the season churned toward Bermuda Saturday night, with experts forecasting even stronger winds over the next 24 hours.
Boasting maximum sustained winds at 85 mph and even more potent gusts, Hurricane Erin is moving north-northwest toward Bermuda. The island's government declared a hurricane warning -- up from a hurricane watch -- late Saturday.
As of 11 p.m. EDT, an Air Force "hurricane watcher" plane placed Erin 325 miles southeast of Bermuda, but creeping closer at a rate of 15 mph.
The storm's center could be over the island on Sunday or Sunday night, the National Weather Service said, dumping 5 to 10 inches of rain. Forecasters also warned the storm will be accompanied by avove normal tides and large, dangerous waves.
Forecasters said Erin's hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles from its center, with tropical storm gusts blowing up to 145 miles out.
The escalation to hurricane status represents the latest in Erin's up-and-down ride since it first appeared in the Atlantic last week. Just three days ago, the storm had dissipated to a tropical wave -- only to regain tropical storm status a few days later.
Five storms have reached named status this hurricane season in the Atlantic, but Erin is the first to become a hurricane. All rode a roller coaster of strengthening and weakening as they plowed their way west.
Meanwhile, a tropical depression that formed in the eastern Atlantic on Friday lost its form and weakened a day later.
Tropical depression seven's maximum sustained winds were only 25 mph on Saturday evening, with gusts surging to 35 mph. The remnants of the storm, located about 750 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands, are moving westward at 16 mph.
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National Hurricane Center
National Weather Service
Interactive Weather Information Network
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
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