Hurricane Lee was declared a “powerful” Category 5 storm on Friday and is expected to maintain its intensity as it approaches the Caribbean bringing maritime conditions that could threaten shipping and shorelines. Some predictions suggest that windspeeds at the center of the storm could reach 180 miles per hour.
The system will bring “dangerous beach conditions” to Caribbean islands today, then dangerous surf and rip currents along most of the US East Coast from Sunday, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in its 5am advisory.
Lee was located 630 miles (1015km) east of the northern Leeward Islands with sustained winds of 165mph (270km/h).
Fluctuations in intensity are likely over the next few days, but Lee is expected to remain a major hurricane through early next week, NHC reported.
The storm is not expected to make landfall and pass well to the north of the northern Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico over the weekend and into early next week.
While the hope is that Hurricane Lee will blow itself out over the ocean, its future path is still very uncertain and it may threaten Bermuda and the northeastern coast of the United States next week.
Tropical Storm #Lee will likely become the first Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic in 2023 this weekend as it explosively intensifies.
Some hurricane models suggest the storm could reach historically strong levels (170+ mph) as it moves through a low wind shear environment… pic.twitter.com/Kip1XZkkwb
— Colin McCarthy (@US_Stormwatch) September 6, 2023
Meanwhile, out in the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Margot is coming up behind Lee and could bring problems to the Caribbean.
Sources: The Independent, BBC, National Hurricane Center.