Tropical Storm Danny strengthened early Thursday to become the first hurricane of the Atlantic season, National Hurricane Center forecasters said.
Sustained winds increased to about 75 mph as Danny headed north, northwest at 12 mph, about 1,000 miles east of the Windward Islands, forecasters said. They expect Danny to continue strengthening at least for the next two days.
The compact storm has hurricane force winds extending only 10 miles from its center, with tropical storm winds reaching about 60 miles.
Hurricane Danny arrives just as the season swings into peak months. On average, the first hurricane of the season forms on Aug. 10.
So far, the 2015 system has produced just three tropical storms — Ana, Bill and Claudette. Hurricane center forecasters predicted a below average season and earlier this month scaled back their projection even more, forecasting just six to 10 named storms, one to four hurricanes and up to one major storm.
Forecasters say a record-breaking El Niño heating waters in the Pacific and fueling upper-level winds is helping tamp down Atlantic storms.