Hurricane Lee fell below major hurricane strength overnight, but is expected to gain intensity in the coming days in the Atlantic while the National Hurricane Center keeps track of Tropical Storm Margot and two new systems that could develop.
At 5 a.m. Sunday, Hurricane Lee had maximum sustained winds of 105 mph making it a Category 2 hurricane. It was located about 280 miles northeast of the Caribbean’s northern Leeward Islands moving west-northwest at 9 mph. Hurricane-force winds extend out 45 miles with tropical-storm-force winds out 160 miles.
“A slower west-northwestward motion is expected during the next few days. On the forecast track, Lee is expected to pass well north of the northern Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico into early next week,” forecasters said.
The hurricane had undergone rapid intensification building up in less than half a day from a Category 1 to a Category 5 hurricane with 165 mph winds this week. It was originally forecast to grow even stronger, but then it whiplashed and started losing steam on Friday.
“Some strengthening is forecast during the next couple of days, followed by gradual weakening,” forecasters said.
Hurricane Lee will produce large wave, rough surf, and dangerous rip currents from the Leeward Islands to the Bahamas through the early part of the week. Please check with your local weather services for more information. pic.twitter.com/xiqnCWdM4e
— NHC_TAFB (@NHC_TAFB) September 9, 2023
While its path has it shifting even more north within the next five days and no threat for landfall, the NHC is warning of its dangerous coastal effects with swells hitting portions of the Lesser Antilles, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, Turks and Caicos, Bahamas and Bermuda this weekend.
“Swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions,” forecasters said. “Dangerous surf and rip currents are expected to begin along most of the U.S. East Coast tomorrow and worsen through next week.”
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Margot continued to churn in the eastern Atlantic.
At 5 a.m., Margot was located about 1,100 miles west-northwest of the Cape Verde Islands moving northwest at 8 mph with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph. Its tropical-storm-force winds extend out 80 miles.
“A gradual turn to the north-northwest and north is expected during the next couple of days,” forecasters said. “Strengthening is still anticipated, and Margot is likely to become a hurricane within the next couple of days.”
If it does it would become the fifth hurricane of the season after Don, Franklin, Idalia and Lee.
Elsewhere in the tropics, the NHC began giving odds on two systems with a chance to become the next tropical depression or storm.
The first is a small area of low pressure a few hundred miles southwest of the Cape Verde Islands with showers and thunderstorms.
“Environmental conditions appear to be marginally favorable for additional development as the system moves slowly westward over the eastern tropical Atlantic,” forecasters said.
The NHC gives it a 30% chance to form in the next two to seven days.
The second is from a tropical wave expected to move off the west coast of Africa in the next two days.
“Environmental conditions appear conducive for some gradual development of this system during the latter part of this week as it moves westward to west-northwestward at 15 to 20 mph over the eastern and central portions of the tropical Atlantic,” forecasters said.
The NHC gives it a 30% chance to develop in the next seven days.
They could become the 15th and 16th named storms of the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season that runs through Nov. 30 with the next names in line being Nigel and Ophelia.