Tropical Storm Lee strengthens; It is expected to become an “extremely dangerous” hurricane by Saturday
Tropical Storm Lee is expected to become a hurricane later Wednesday and is likely to rapidly intensify into a very dangerous large hurricane by Saturday, the National Hurricane Center said.
“This storm is going to be a monster,” Fox Weather meteorologist Stephen Morgan said.
Lee is preparing to strike the Lesser Antilles and Puerto Rico this weekend as a major Category 4 hurricane with winds of 150 mph before turning north off the east coast of the United States.
While the most severe winds from the storm are expected to remain offshore, waves generated by the hurricane are expected to reach parts of the Lesser Antilles on Friday. The National Hurricane Center said these swells have the potential to create life-threatening waves and rip current conditions.
Will Lee have any impacts on the East Coast of the United States?
The long-term forecast shows Lee continuing to move offshore as it heads north next week, but how close it will come to the east coast remains uncertain.
Soon-to-be Hurricane Lee is unlikely to pose an immediate threat to Florida, Georgia or South Carolina, said Brian Norcross, a hurricane specialist at FOX Weather.
“Strong winds should remain offshore the Bahamas and the southeastern United States,” Norcross said.
However, the storm will generate very high waves with strong and dangerous waves, which could lead to damage along the coast.
Most computer models expect Lee to stay offshore, but some point to a trajectory close enough to the mid-Atlantic and northeast coasts to warrant an eye out for forecasts next week.
“The impacts from North Carolina to New England along the East Coast is still an open question,” Norcross added.
“To think that we won’t feel the effects on the East Coast because there might not be a landfall (is) crazy… because the size of this storm is going to grow, and it’s something we’re paying close attention to,” Morgan said.
Where is Tropical Storm Lee located?
According to the NHC, Tropical Storm Lee is located about 1,200 miles east of the northern Leeward Islands and has maximum sustained winds of 70 mph. The system is moving to the west-northwest at 14 mph.
Forecast models take the storm just north of the Caribbean islands, but close enough that tropical storm conditions can be felt in places like Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Saturday.
What is the tropical storm forecast for me?
Tropical Storm Lee is expected to move northwest in the coming days and eventually reach the eastern regions of the Caribbean Sea.
Lee is expected to reach typhoon strength by early Thursday if not later Wednesday, and major typhoon strength by Friday afternoon. By Saturday, winds could reach Category 4 strength.
“The weather and ocean conditions look very favorable for rapid intensification over the next few days,” said meteorologists at the National Center of Meteorology.