An infrared satellite image of Hurricane Lorenzo on September 26, 2019
An infrared satellite image of Hurricane Lorenzo on September 26, 2019.
Lorenzo rapidly intensified into a Category 4 hurricane Thursday farther east in the Atlantic Ocean than all but one hurricane on record.

The storm is currently not threatening land, but it may do so when it approaches the Azores next week as a weaker, but still formidable hurricane.

Lorenzo strengthened from a tropical storm on Tuesday into a hurricane on Wednesday, before reaching Category 4 hurricane strength by late Thursday morning.

September 2010's Hurricane Julia is the only other hurricane on record to intensify to Category 4 status farther east in the Atlantic Ocean than Lorenzo, according to Dr. Phil Klotzbach, a tropical scientist at Colorado State University.

If considering only those Category 4 hurricanes from Sept. 26 through the end of the season since the 1960s, Lorenzo is even more of an anomaly, noted Richard Dixon, a meteorologist at CatInsight and visiting research fellow at the University of Reading.

Even in the heart of hurricane season, tropical waves moving off the coast of western Africa usually take some time to mushroom into intense hurricanes.

This is often due to intrusions of dry air, known as Saharan air layers, moving off Africa's Sahara Desert. Fledgling tropical disturbances need warm, moist air to intensify, so battling these intrusions can prevent intensification or even spell doom in the eastern Atlantic Ocean.

In Lorenzo's case, that wasn't a big problem.

A lack of shearing winds, typically warm ocean water and moist air allowed Lorenzo to rapidly intensify so far east.

Lorenzo would only pose an issue for shipping lanes, if not for it's expected pass near the Azores Tuesday or Wednesday.

The National Hurricane Center mentioned Lorenzo's wind field is large, increasing the chances it may impact the group of Portuguese islands about 900 miles west of Portugal.

As meteorologist Yaakov Cantor mentioned Thursday, there have been a number of strange eastern Atlantic hurricanes and tropical storms in recent years, including Leslie almost making it to Portugal as a hurricane in 2018 and a bizarre January strike from Hurricane Alex in the Azores.