Hurricane Bill blew toward land early Tuesday, edging closer to the West Indies with near 100 mph winds and the potential for developing into a major hurricane.
The National Hurricane Center expected Bill to strengthen over the next 48 hours. Various weather models showed the storm either missing or grazing the west side of Bermuda as it heads toward the U.S. East Coast, CNN meteorologists said Tuesday. The models showed Bill’s path moving dangerously close to the Carolina coast and the Northeast, with the best scenario showing the storm turning back to sea before reaching the United States. Track Hurricane Bill’s path across the Atlantic » Bill is the first hurricane of the 2009 Atlantic season. About 5 a.m. Tuesday, Bill was heading west-northwest near 17 mph and was predicted to follow that path for the next two days. The storm was centered about 810 miles east of the Leeward Islands, a chain located where the Caribbean meets the western Atlantic.
Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 30 miles from the center, and tropical storm-force winds extended outward up to 150 miles. With sustained winds of near 100 mph, and higher gusts, Bill was a Category 2 storm in the classification system used by the hurricane center. It will become a major hurricane if its sustained winds top 111 mph.