With a well-defined center and broadening circulation, Gordon has become the strongest hurricane of the 2012 season to date. Maximum sustained winds are estimated at 105 mph and the forward speed has increased to 21 mph. Gordon is forecast to begin weakening tomorrow, but it was never forecast to get this strong in the first place. Thus, it may still be at hurricane strength as the center crosses near the eastern Azores tomorrow night into Monday. Hurricane warnings remain in effect for the central and eastern Azores, although it appears the two easternmost islands (São Miguel and Santa Maria) are most likely to be affected by Gordon.
Elsewhere… Helene is dissipating quickly over Mexico and will likely be gone by tomorrow morning. The tropical wave off Africa continues its’ slow trek across the Atlantic. The NHC now gives it a 50% chance of becoming a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours – the best chance for tropical cyclone development in this wave given by the NHC over the past two days. If you’re curious, the next name on the list is Isaac.