Tropical Storm Gert, the seventh named storm of the Atlantic season, continued to strengthen Monday and could become a short-lived hurricane overnight or by Tuesday, National Hurricane Center forecasters said.
Gert powered up over the weekend as it rolled northward off the Florida coast. In their 5 p.m. Monday advisory, forecasters said sustained winds had reached 60 mph with tropical storm force winds extending outward about 90 miles. Gert was located east of the Florida and Georgia border, about 460 miles west, southwest of Bermuda.
Gert will likely become a hurricane by Tuesday night despite some moderate wind shear, which can weaken hurricanes. However, as it heads over cooler waters, Gert is expected to weaken again as it turns to the northeast and heads toward the North Atlantic later in the week.
The storm will likely stay well offshore, churning between the U.S. coast and Bermuda. However, swells could begin to hit parts of the U.S. coast today, causing life-threatening rip currents and surfs in Virginia and North Carolina, forecasters said.
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If it becomes a hurricane, Gert would be the second of the season. Last week, Franklin became the first hurricane when it made landfall Thursday as a Category 1 storm in Veracruz, Mexico.
The Atlantic season is now entering its busiest months, when historically more hurricanes appear. Hurricane forecasters called for an above average season in May and last week revised their forecast slightly up after determining conditions in the Caribbean and Tropical Atlantic will likely churn out more storms than they previously expected.
Follow Jenny Staletovich on Twitter @jenstaletovich