A day after reaching hurricane status, Hurricane Danny is a major storm with maximum winds of 115 mph, according to data from an aircraft survey of the cyclone.
A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Hurricane Hunter aircraft flew through the storm Friday and found its most intense sustained winds were stronger than meteorologists had estimated. A regular report the National Hurricane Center issued at 10 a.m. had said the winds were 105 mph.
That 10 mph difference was enough to make Danny a Category 3 storm, which have maximum sustained winds of at least 111 mph.
But forecasters don't expect the storm to intensify further, and they still predict it will weaken before hitting the Windward Islands early Monday. It also remains relatively unimpressive for a "major" storm, they said.
"Danny remains a tiny hurricane," they wrote.
Given intensifying El Niño conditions around the world, which discourage tropical cyclone formation and intensification in the Atlantic basin, government forecasters predicted zero or one major hurricanes would develop this year. Danny is both the first hurricane and the first major hurricane of the year.