MIAMI: Gonzalo weakened to a Category 3 hurricane on Wednesday and was forecast to continue losing strength over the next 48 hours as it moves over cooler Atlantic water toward Bermuda, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
Gonzalo briefly reached Category 4 status on Wednesday with sustained winds of 130 miles per hour (215 km per hour) but dropped back to 125 mph (205 kph) by the evening as it continued to move away from the northern Caribbean, forecasters said.
The hurricane posed no threat to the mainland United States or any oil installation as it moved further north into the Atlantic.
But it was forecast to still pack hurricane-force winds when it nears Bermuda on Friday, forecasters said.
Gonzalo was about 590 miles (955 km) south-southwest of Bermuda, the center said, moving at 9 mph (15 kph).
Hurricane force winds of 74 mph (95 kph) and above extend outward up to 35 miles (55 km) from the center, it added.
Gonzalo is the sixth hurricane of the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season, which runs through the end of November.
Forecasters in August predicted lower-than-usual activity for the season, with seven to 12 named storms and no more than two reaching major hurricane status.
A major hurricane is considered to be Category 3 or above with winds hitting at least 111 mph (178 kph).
Before losing power Gonzalo was the Atlantic’s first Category 4 hurricane since October 2011 when Hurricane Ophelia’s winds reached 140 mph (225 kph), according to Jeff Masters, a hurricane expert with private forecaster Weather Underground.
Gonzalo was expected to continue weakening on Thursday and Friday as it encountered drier air and cooler seas, but could still reach Bermuda anywhere between a Category 1 and Category 3 storm, Masters wrote in a blog post.
Forecast models showed it passing close to the island on Friday afternoon.