UPDATE: We have confirmed the unofficial report from the Hurricane Hunter aircraft. Danny has maximum sustained winds of 115 mph and is now a Category 3 Hurricane.
Original Article below:
Hurricane Danny, now located at 14.0 North and 48.2 West, has continued to intensify overnight and is now a Category 2 Hurricane. With maximum sustained winds at 105 mph, Danny is just 6 mph below category 3 status and intensification is expected to continue for the next 12 to 24 hours. Danny’s minimum central pressure is now 976 millibars and continues to drop. The Hurricane Hunter plane that is currently in the storm is reporting a minimum central pressure around 970 millibars and flight level winds of nearly 120 mph at 3000 feet above sea level and surface winds of 103 to 104 knots. This would be a category 3 storm if these readings are confirmed. Additional data is being gathered and an Air Force Reserve reconnaissance air craft is on its way to the storm to perform an upper level dropsonde mission at this time. Firsthand Weather will confirm this status as a category 3 if readings confirm this status as soon as data is available.
The satellite profile of Danny continues to improve and as his eye has become better defined and the outer bands continue to expand in coverage, which will help to protect the central core of Danny from continued dry air intrusion. While some of the moisture from the remnants of the tropical moisture that came off of Venezuela remains in front of Danny, much of the moisture inflow from yesterday has mixed with the dry air from the Saharan Air Layer and Danny is moving towards much drier conditions with stronger wind shear. This will help weaken Danny as he moves towards the Windward Islands. Danny remains a very small hurricane, with hurricane force winds only extending 15 miles from the eye of the storm.
The forecast track remains on course, our forecast here at Firsthand Weather is slightly North of the National Hurricane Center’s forecast track, with less time over Puerto Rico and Hispanola than this track, and that model track has trended slightly North as time goes on.