hurricane ophelia update

Story highlights

NEW: Ophelia now has maximum sustained winds of 120 mph

NEW: It is set to hit portions of Bermuda late Saturday, hurricane center predicts

Tropical Storm Philippe, meanwhile, is getting stronger in the eastern Atlantic

CNN  — 

Hurricane Ophelia rapidly gained strength early Saturday as it barreled across the Atlantic toward Bermuda, forecasters said.

A tropical storm watch was in effect for that mid-Atlantic island, but Ophelia’s increasingly northerly path suggests it won’t directly threaten the coastal United States.

The system seemed to be weakening last week, but gained steam and was upgraded to a Category 3 hurricane Friday.

According to the center’s 8 p.m. update, Ophelia had maximum sustained winds of 120 mph, which is 5 mph stronger than those recorded three hours earlier. Its center was located 480 miles south-southeast of Bermuda.

Ophelia has also gotten faster, increasing in speed 4 mph as it heads north at around 16 mph. With an expected turn more to the north-northeast, the storm is expected to strike the eastern part of Bermuda late Saturday, reports the hurricane center.

Forecasters said its intensity could fluctuate over the next 12 to 24 hours, followed by a gradual weakening.

Hurricane-force winds extended about 30 miles from the storm’s eye, center said. Tropical storm-force winds, which are winds between 39 mph and 73 mph, have been recorded 175 miles away.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Philippe was churning farther east in the Atlantic, with its eye some 1,210 miles east-northeast of the Leeward Islands.

As of that update, its sustained winds were 50 mph, which is slightly stronger than the previous update.

The hurricane center predicted “some weakening” over the next 48 hours, during which it was set to turn more toward the west-northwest.