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Hurricane Bill Reaches Category 4

Bill's maximum sustained winds are near 135 mph with higher gusts.
/ Source: WJXT-TV

Hurricane Bill has strengthened to a Category 4, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

At 5 a.m. eastern Wednesday, the center of Hurricane Bill was located near latitude 18.0 north, longitude 54.9 west or about 460 miles east of the leeward islands.

Bill is moving toward the west-northwest near 16 mph and a gradual turn toward the northwest is expected during the next 24 to 48 hours. On this track, the core of the hurricane will be passing well to the northeast of the northern Leeward Islands late Wednesday and early Thursday.

Maximum sustained winds are near 135 mph with higher gusts. Some additional strengthening is forecast during the next 24 hours. A NOAA hurricane hunter aircraft is investigating Bill.

"At this time Bill, our first major hurricane of the season, is something to monitor and appreciate from afar," said Channel 4 Meteorologist Richard Nunn. "Along the east coast, Bill will send a surfable swell that should last through the weekend. For Bermuda, a glancing blow will result in hurricane force winds and turbulent seas. Bill's current track, however, is a win-win for surfers along the middle of the Atlantic."

Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 45 miles from the center, and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 175 miles.