Tropical Storm Chris has officially reached hurricane strength, marking the second hurricane of this year's Atlantic season.
At 5 p.m. ET Tuesday, the National Hurricane Centre in Miami upgraded Chris from a tropical storm to a hurricane when maximum sustained winds reached 85 mph. Headed northeast at 10 mph, the eye of Hurricane Chris was located about 205 miles east-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.
According to weather forecasters, Hurricane Chris is expected to gain strength throughout Wednesday before weakening Thursday as it heads out to sea and away from U.S. coastal areas. It is believed that Hurricane Chris may clip Newfoundland, Canada, later in the week, USA Today reports.
Although there are currently no coastal watches or warnings in effect, weather officials warned that Hurricane Chris could potentially produce heavy surf and create life-threatening rip-currents along the East Coast in the coming days. When the storm reaches Newfoundland, it will bring heavy rains totaling one to three inches with isolated maximum amounts of six inches, posing the risk of flash flooding.
While it is expected to mostly miss the United States, the storm has already created dangerous conditions, and beach patrol officials in Ocean City, Maryland had already made 141 rescues as of Monday due to strong rip currents. AccuWeather reports that a man in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina died after he ignored "No Swimming" signs posted along the beach and encountered rough surf.
Chris began as a storm off the coast of North Carolina early on Sunday, during the same time that former hurricane Beryl began to dissipate. Hurricane Beryl has since dropped below the standards of a Tropical Depression, though it is still causing strong thunderstorms in Puerto Rico, where citizens are still recovering from Hurricane Maria last year.
The strengthening of Chris to a hurricane marks a rare event, as not only are hurricanes more typical in late August and early fall, but having two named storms in the Atlantic is not typical for the month of July.