Updated at 4:52 p.m. ET
The tiny Atlantic islands of the Azores, an autonomous region of Portugal, are on alert as Hurricane Lorenzo continues to move northward. The Category 2 hurricane formed early last week off the shore of western Africa as a tropical depression.
Warnings are in effect for the archipelago, which is home to about 245,000 people. The National Hurricane Center has forecast that the hurricane will bring 1 to 2 inches of rain and life-threatening surf and rip current conditions in much of the Atlantic basin.
Lots of people asking if we are going to brave #Lorenzo on the island. We are! We’ve been on the island for a red weather warning before and we are in the process of closing up for the year, so we’ll be battening down the hatches! Light a candle for us! pic.twitter.com/Sohe6xQGbb
— Lesley (@island_lesley) October 1, 2019
Hurricane conditions are expected to hit portions of the Azores early Wednesday. The 5 p.m. ET report shows Lorenzo located about 285 miles southwest of the western island Flores and is moving northeast at 29 mph, with winds of 100 mph.
Lorenzo strengthened into a Category 5 hurricane on Saturday night before gradually weakening. The NHC reported that Lorenzo broke records during its time classified as Category 5. “It is the strongest hurricane on record this far north and east in the Atlantic basin,” the organization tweeted.
Eric Blake, a forecaster at the NHC, tweeted that Lorenzo became a hurricane almost 600 miles east of the previous easternmost Category 5 hurricane, 1989’s Hugo.
Officials in the Azores said they are monitoring the hurricane’s movement. Twenty-five firefighters have been deployed from neighboring islands to those in the direct path of Lorenzo.
The hurricane is expected to weaken to a tropical depression after it passes near the Azores and moves into colder waters over the next 48 hours. However, it is still expected to bring stormy conditions other countries, including Ireland.
The Irish Meteorological Service issued an advisory warning that high seas, severe winds and heavy rain may hit on Thursday and Friday.
Lorenzo is the fifth Atlantic storm to reach hurricane status in 2019, following Jerry, Humberto, Dorian and Barry.
Paolo Zialcita is an intern on NPR’s News Desk.