“Some additional strengthening is possible today, followed by little change in strength into the weekend,” the NHC said.
The storm became a hurricane late Wednesday night, then “rapidly intensified” in the overnight hours, according to the NHC.
Eric Blake, a senior hurricane scientist at the NHC, tweeted the storm had developed at “nice eye,” and can be added to the “long list” of rapidly intensifying hurricanes so far in 2020.
Epsilon is forecast to continue heading west-northwest before making a turn to the northwest by Wednesday night and a northward turn by Thursday night.
“On the forecast track, the center of Epsilon is forecast to make its closest approach to Bermuda Thursday afternoon or evening,” the NHC said.
Epsilon will be moving east of Bermuda over the next few days, but the island will still see some impacts.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles from the center of the storm, while tropical-storm-force winds reach up to 435 miles, mainly north of the center.
A tropical storm watch has been issued for Bermuda, where officials said conditions will deteriorate on Thursday as the storm makes its closest approach.
Dangerous surf is also expected along the coasts of Bermuda, the Bahamas, the Greater Antilles, and the Leeward Islands.
“These conditions are expected to spread to portions of the east coast of the United States and Atlantic Canada during the next couple of days,” the NHC said.
Epsilon represents a record for the earliest 26th named storm, beating out Nov. 22 in 2005, according to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach.
There is just over one month left in the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, which ends Nov. 30, but this season has broken numerous recorrds as forecasters in September ran out of traditional names and went to the Greek alphabet for storms Alpha and Beta. Delta became a Category 4 storm before weakening and swiping Mexico, then took aim and roared into Louisiana as a Category 2 hurricane.
NOAA forecasters had called for up to 25 named storms this season with winds of 39 mph or higher; of those, seven to 10 could become hurricanes. Among those hurricanes, three to six will be major, classified as Category 3, 4 and 5 with winds of 111 mph or higher.
That’s far above an average year. Based on 1981-to-2010 data, that is 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes.
The last time the Greek alphabet was used in the Atlantic was in 2005, the year of Hurricane Katrina. With a total of 27 storms that year, the first six letters of the Greek alphabet were used: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon and Zeta.
Fox News’ Adam Klotz contributed to this report.