Hurricane Lee has rapidly intensified into a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 130 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). The storm is expected to strengthen further and could become a Category 5 hurricane within the next day. The NHC forecasts that Lee will continue to intensify and reach its peak strength within the next day, with sustained winds potentially reaching 165 mph. While the core of Lee is predicted to move north of the Northern Leeward Islands, fluctuation in intensity is expected, and it is likely to remain a strong major hurricane.
Currently, there are no coastal watches or warnings in effect, but the NHC advises those in the northern Leeward Islands to monitor the storm. At the moment, Lee’s eye has a central pressure of 953 millibars and is moving towards the west-northwest at a speed of 15 mph. Hurricane-force winds extend up to 30 miles from the center, while tropical-storm-force winds reach up to 140 miles from the center. An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft will survey Lee to gather data on its intensity.
The main risk from Hurricane Lee is the potential for high seas and dangerous surf over the next five days. Rip currents and dangerous surf will spread across the northern Caribbean starting Friday and could impact the US mainland by Sunday. While the storm’s path is predicted to continue moving west-northwest, the exact impacts beyond a week are uncertain, as a possible turn to the north depends on the weakening of the subtropical ridge. The NHC’s Tropical Atlantic Marine Weather Briefing also mentions Tropical Storm Margot, which has formed in the eastern Atlantic.