Epsilon rapidly gained major hurricane strength on Wednesday afternoon and is expected to skirt east of Bermuda, the National Hurricane Center says.
The storm is packing top sustained winds of 90 mph and Bermuda remains under a tropical storm warning. Epsilon gained 45 mph in wind speed in just over 24 hours, officially qualifying as a rapidly intensifying storm, before losing some strength Thursday.
It is the seventh storm this season to power up this quickly.
The NHC said Epsilon was located at about 235 miles east-southeast of Bermuda, and was moving to the northwest at 7 mph.
Forecasters said Epsilon should make its closest approach to Bermuda by Thursday afternoon or evening. Gradual weakening of the storm is expected to begin on Thursday and continue into the weekend.
Over the past couple decades, meteorologists have been increasingly worried about storms that blow up from nothing to a whopper, just like Epsilon. Forecasters created an official threshold for this dangerous rapid intensification — a storm gaining 35 mph in wind speed in just 24 hours.
Forecasters said tropical storm conditions would soon begin on Bermuda and continue intermittently through late Thursday. Epsilon is expected to make its closest approach to the island on Thursday afternoon or evening, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.
Large swells generated by Epsilon are already affecting Bermuda, the Bahamas, the Greater Antilles, and the Leeward Islands, and are expected to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions along the coast of New England and Atlantic Canada during the next couple of days.
This year's hurricane season has had so many storms that the Hurricane Center has turned to the Greek alphabet for storm names after running out of official names.
Epsilon also represents a record for the earliest 26th named storm, arriving more than a month before a storm on Nov. 22 in 2005, according to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach.