MIAMI (AP) _ To the surprise of meteorologists, Epsilon retained its status as a hurricane Tuesday in the open Atlantic, where it posed no threat to land.

For the second straight day, Epsilon kept its sustained wind blowing at about 75 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The minimum for a hurricane is 74 mph.

``There must be some favorable environment, but we're not able to see what it is,'' hurricane specialist Lixion Avila said.

At 4 p.m. EST, the center of Epsilon's large eye was about 570 miles southwest of the Azores and was moving south-southwest at about 10 mph.

The 26th named storm of the record-breaking hurricane season was expected to turn toward the southwest late Tuesday and finally weaken, Avila said.

Epsilon, the 14th hurricane of the season, had been downgraded Sunday to a tropical storm but unexpectedly regained hurricane strength.

The Atlantic hurricane season began June 1 and officially ended Nov. 30.

Epsilon was only the fifth hurricane to form in the month of December in more than 150 years of record-keeping, the hurricane center said. The latest that a hurricane has formed in the Caribbean was Dec. 30, in 1954.

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On the Net:

National Hurricane Center: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov