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Hurricane Ophelia is continuing to pack a punch as it accelerates to the east-northeast across the Atlantic.

Ophelia may not threaten the US - but it could move near the Azores islands, and the National Hurricane Center on Thursday cautioned those in the islands to keep an eye on the storm.

On Thursday afternoon, Ophelia's core was located about 715 miles southwest of the Azores, where it was virtually stationary.

Ophelia is forecast to transition to an extratropical storm by Monday - but it could still be at hurricane strength as it moves very close to Ireland and Great Britain on Monday and Tuesday, the hurricane center said.

The Miami-based hurricane center says the British Isles, including Ireland, should be watching the storm's progress. That's a bit of an unusual track for Atlantic storms.

The current forecast says there is an nearly zero per cent chance of a storm forming in the next 48 hours, and a 20 per chance of formation within the next five days.

And those in Ireland and the United Kingdom may have to watch it too.

With Ophelia becoming a major storm - Category 3 or higher - the 2017 season matches the six major hurricanes recorded by this time of the year in 1933, 1961, 1964 and 2004, according to Colorado State University meteorologist Philip Klotzbach. He says a combination of slightly warmer than normal water and weak upper level winds helped make that hurricane streak.