Gaston Becomes First Major Hurricane of 2016

Winds Increase to 115 MPH

After battling shear for a day or two, Gaston re-energized into a Hurricane on Saturday, and deepened some more during the overnight hours. Now, the storm has become the first major hurricane of the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season with 115 mile per hour winds as it churns away to the east of Bermuda in the Central Atlantic.

As of the 5:00 PM Advisory from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, Gaston was located some 580 miles to the East of Bermuda. The storm is moving slowly to the Northwest at 5 miles per hour. Maximum sustained winds have grown to 115 miles per hour with gusts topping 140 miles per hour. Minimum central pressure has dropped to 962 millibars or 28.41 inches of Hg.

The latest forecast discussion from the NHC indicates that Gaston possesses a 15 mile wide eye, which can be clearly depicted on satellite. In addition to a clearly visible eye, the storm’s cloud tops are cooling according to infrared satellite imagery, and the combination of a clearly visible eye and cooling cloud tops are indicative of strengthening.

Gaston may have reached its peak. Despite good upper level outflow, a well defined eye, and colder cloud tops, the model forecasts indicate that Gaston is not expected to strengthen further. The intensity forecast from the NHC shows Gaston remaining a major hurricane for the next 24 hours, but beginning to gradually weaken at 36 hours and downgraded to a tropical storm in five days as it moves into higher latitudes and encounters cooler waters and the westerlies.

Taking a look at the forecast track, the NHC guidance shows the storm turning to the east, and picking up forward speed on Tuesday afternoon. Gaston will turn more easterly with time, and be several hundred miles to the southwest of the Azores by Friday afternoon.