Though Bill remains hundreds of miles from the East Coast, it is now an “extremely dangerous” Category Four hurricane and could give the coast of New England a glancing blow by Sunday, the National Weather Service’s National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Wednesday.

At 5 p.m. EDT Wednesday the eye of the year’s first major hurricane was about 335 miles northeast of the Leeward Islands and about 970 miles south-southeast of Bermuda. NHC said it expected Bill to pass well north of the Leeward Islands. Maximum sustained winds were near 135 mph with higher gusts. Some additional strengthening could occur over the next couple of days, NHC said. Hurricane-force winds extend outward from the storm’s center as far as 85 miles, and tropical storm-force winds extend outward as much as 230 miles, primarily to the northeast of the storm’s center, NHC said.

The hurricane was moving northwest at almost 20 mph and was expected to continue on that track through Thursday, with a turn to the northwest and then more northerly beginning on Friday. Large swells associated with Bill should begin to affect Bermuda and portions of the East Coast Friday and Saturday. NHC’s five-day tracking forecast showed the hurricane passing just to the east of Bermuda on Saturday. By Sunday Bill could be affecting conditions on the New England coast and in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, though it is expected to remain at sea.’s forecast calls for a weakened Hurricane Bill to be near Newfoundland and Nova Scotia late in the weekend and into early next week.

“As the storm enters the cooler waters of the North Atlantic this weekend, it will weaken somewhat. However, stronger steering currents will cause the forward motion of the hurricane to increase,” said forecaster Alex Sosnowski. “Even if the center of Bill passes well to the west of Bermuda and just east of Cape Cod, MA, the large size and strength of the hurricane can bring a period of stormy conditions. How close Bill passes to these areas will determine the magnitude of the winds, rain and waves. As Bill enters the northern latitudes, tropical storm-force winds will extend farther outward from the center. This will lead to tropical storm conditions on New England, especially Cape Cod and down-east Maine.”

The remnants of Tropical Storm Ana are now disorganized across the eastern Caribbean and are unlikely to reorganize into a tropical storm, NHC said. On Monday Ana was a tropical storm, carrying maximum sustained winds of 35 mph and dumping heavy rains on Puerto Rico (see Daily GPI, Aug. 18). By 2 p.m. EDT Tuesday disorganized showers and thunderstorms, all that remained of Ana, extended from near Jamaica across eastern Cuba to the Bahamas (see Daily GPI, Aug. 19). On Wednesday the remnants of the storm entered the Gulf of Mexico, where reorganization was still a possibility.

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