MIAMI, Aug. 20 (UPI) -- Danny became a hurricane Thursday morning, earlier than expected. It's the first hurricane of the Atlantic season.
National Hurricane Center forecasters in Miami say the storm looks more impressive with a well-defined eye. It's expected to strengthen slightly and then cross the Leeward Island on Monday as a weak Category 1 hurricane. But its path into the Caribbean means it could ultimately fall apart because conditions there are not favorable for development.
NHC computer models now show Danny getting no stronger than a weak Category 1 hurricane with winds of 85 mph on Friday. Some models show Danny disintegrating into a tropical wave -- basically a disorganized collection of strong thunderstorms. Danny currently has sustained winds of 75 mph. The storm was earlier predicted to reach Category 2 strength, but that's no longer the case.
NHC forecasters note that Danny is a very compact storm, which makes predictions of strength very difficult. Such storms often wildly fluctuate up and down in strength. Thursday morning, forecasters believed Danny wouldn't become a hurricane until Saturday.
Danny is moving west at about 10 mph and is expected to cross over the Leeward Islands on Monday as a hurricane. It's forecast to weaken to a tropical storm again Tuesday, positioned over Puerto Rico and entering an area of dry air.
Amid strong El Niño conditions in the Pacific that dampen Atlantic hurricane development, Weather Co. meteorologist and tropical weather expert Michael Ventrice suggested earlier this week that what would become Danny (then known to forecasters as "Invest 96L") was benefitting from an upper atmosphere anomaly referred to as a "convectively coupled Kelvin wave". Ventrice suggests that CCKWs give storms a boost, but after it passes the effect dissipates.
Meanwhile, a disturbance southeast of Bermuda off the East Coast is expected to develop into a tropical or sub-tropical system as it moves slowly northward. It poses no threat to land at this point.