MIAMI - Hurricane Gordon sped across the Atlantic early Sunday toward the eastern Azores islands, where a hurricane warning is in effect, U.S. forecasters in Miami said.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Gordon was centred about 340 miles (550 kms) west-southwest of Sao Miguel Island in the Azores as of 8 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT). It added that Gordon remained a Category 2 hurricane with top sustained winds of 100 mph (155 kph) and higher gusts.
The hurricane, which formed on Saturday, was moving toward the east at 23 mph (37 kph).
The hurricane was on a forecast track expected to take it near or over the islands of the eastern Azores early Monday. Forecasters said that while the Gordon was expected to weaken somewhat Sunday, it still was expected to be a hurricane pasing near or acrosss the eastern Azores.
Portugal's government, meanwhile, has discontinued a hurricane warning for the central Azores.
Forecasters said Gordon, on an eastward track in the pre-dawn hours, was expected to turn toward the east-northeast later Sunday. Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 35 miles (55 kms) from the centre and tropical storm force winds reached outward up to 125 miles (205 kphs).
Gordon's dangerous surf and ocean swells could reach the central and eastern Azores on Sunday afternoon and heavy rains were expected, the Miami forecasting centre said.
Gordon became a hurricane on Saturday even as onetime Tropical Storm Helene swiftly weakened into a tropical depression as it lumbered ashore on Mexico's Gulf Coast and degenerated into a rain storm without reports of significant damage.
Authorities in Mexico had worried Helene's rains could pose a threat to areas where thousands of people are recovering from flooding spawned last week by Hurricane Ernesto. But Mexico's Veracruz state civil defence office said none of the region's numerous rivers had overflowed Saturday.