Over the weekend Lorenzo – the strongest storm ever recorded so far north and east in the Atlantic, according to the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) – strengthened to a Category 5, smashing several records along the way.
It has since been downgraded to a Category 2. According to the UK’s meteorological office, however, Lorenzo is expected to maintain winds of 105mph as it passes close to the Azores on Tuesday and Wednesday. This will make it the first hurricane to track through the mid-Atlantic archipelago since 2012.
Wave heights in western Ireland are expected to reach 40 feet on Thursday and Friday.
The Irish government convened an emergency meeting on Tuesday with the Irish meteorological service reporting that there was a “high probability” that Lorenzo would track close or over the country on Thursday and Friday, “giving high seas, severe winds and heavy rain.”
Flood warnings have been issued in the UK with spells of “wet and windy weather” forecast in parts of the country later this week.
One to two inches (25 to 50mm) of rainfall is expected over the western Azores on Tuesday and Wednesday, reported the NHC.
The NHC added that swells are likely to cause “life-threatening surf and rip current conditions” across the Azores, with hurricane conditions expected within the warning area early Wednesday morning.
It could pass closer to the Azores island of Corvo than any hurricane in history.
When Lorenzo reaches Ireland and the UK later this week, it will have developed into a “post-tropical (or extratropical) storm,” Miller added, meaning it will have lost some of the meteorological characteristics that classify a storm as a hurricane, or tropical storm. Its impacts will be the same, however, with dangerous winds and heavy rainfall.
Dan Suri, chief meteorologist at the UK’s Met Office, said in a statement that although there had been “considerable uncertainty” over the potential track of the storm after it passes the Azores, the Met Office was now “increasingly confident” that remnants of Lorenzo would move towards the UK.
The strongest winds are currently expected in western Ireland, added Suri, with a risk of coastal gales developing in Northern Ireland and western Scotland on Thursday. Wales and southwest England are expected to be hit on Friday, said Suri.
“Ex-Lorenzo will also bring spells of heavy rain to northwestern parts of the UK through Thursday and Friday, particularly in Northern Ireland, western Scotland, central England and Wales,” Suri said.
Judson Jones and Brandon Miller contributed to this report.