Sept. 10 (UPI) -- Hurricane Paulette is expected to come dangerously close to Bermuda, and may even make landfall, bringing hurricane conditions as it nears the islands early this week.
Paulette became a Category 1 hurricane Saturday night. As of 5 p.m. EDT Sunday, maximum sustained winds were 85 mph and the hurricane was located about 155 miles southeast of Bermuda. The storm was moving northwest at 14 mph.
Interests in Bermuda are urged to be prepared for the incoming hurricane that could be capable of bringing sustained winds above 100 mph, the strength of a Category 2 hurricane.
Paulette is expected to take a more northerly jog on Sunday, towards the islands.
"Paulette will be moving over warmer water and within a more moist and unstable environment with lowering wind shear into early week," AccuWeather's top hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski said.
Wind shear is associated with strong winds aloft or the rapid change in wind direction across an area above the ocean. Strong wind shear can prevent tropical cyclones from forming or cause established tropical cyclones to weaken.
"We are expecting Paulette to intensify further through the rest of Sunday and Monday," Kottlowski said.
While current forecasts have Paulette topping out as a Category 2 hurricane, if the wind shear drops off even more than currently expected, Paulette could strengthen into a major, Category 3 hurricane with winds of over 110 mph as it approaches Bermuda.
The current track points Paulette at or just to the west of Bermuda, which increases the chances for significant impacts across the islands.
If Paulette were to make landfall in Bermuda, it would be the territory's first landfall since 2014, when hurricanes Fay and Gonzalo made back-to-back landfalls on the island in mid-October.
Conditions are expected to deteriorate quickly over the islands during Sunday night with the worst conditions possible during Monday.
The Bermuda Weather Service has issued a hurricane warning for the islands.
Seas and surf will build in the waters around Bermuda into Monday, especially south and east of the islands.
Increasing winds, showers and gusty thunderstorms are likely during Sunday night in Bermuda. There will be the risk of high winds, coastal flooding and torrential rain during Monday to Monday night.
Despite Bermuda's strict building codes, property damage and power outages are likely even if Paulette brushes the islands, and more widespread damage and power outages are expected if the storm makes a direct hit as a Category 2 hurricane or higher.
A this time, Paulette is not expected to bring any impact to the eastern coast of the United States, other than perhaps some rougher surf.
There is a somewhat higher chance for Paulette to track close enough to Newfoundland with some wind and rain late this week. A period of rough seas is likely around the Canada province later in the week, even if Paulette remains to the east.
Paulette is occurring around the traditional peak of the Atlantic hurricane season, which is Sept. 10-11.
Several systems are being monitored over the basin in a season that has already produced 18 named systems and could go on to rival the historic 2005 season. During 2005, 28 named storms set a record for the most ever in a season, and the Greek alphabet was used to name systems for the first time.
Developing tropical storms are likely to continue the 2020 trend of systems setting new early-formation records in the coming days, with the development of Teddy likely on the near horizon.