Lee Rapidly Intensifies into Major Category 5 Hurricane
Update: Hurricane Lee is now category 5 with sustained winds of 155 mph. Get the latest on Lee at Hurricanes.gov.
Hurricane Lee has rapidly intensified into a category 4 storm over the Central Atlantic with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph, the NWS National Hurricane said in a 5 p.m. AST update on Thursday.
Additional strengthening is expected tonight and hurricane models are forecasting that Lee will become a category 5 hurricane at some point in the next day or so. The NHC is forecasting Lee will reach maximum intensity within the next day with sustained winds topping out at 165 mph.
On the forecast track, the core of Lee will move north of the northern Leeward Islands during the next several days. Some fluctuations in intensity are expected, but Lee is expected to remain a powerful major hurricane well into next week.
Currently there are no coastal watches or warnings, but the National Hurricane Center said interests in the northern Leeward Islands should continue to monitor the storm.
At 5 p.m. AST , the clear eye of Hurricane Lee, with an estimated minimum central pressure of 953 mb, was located near latitude 16.9 North, longitude 51.3 West, moving toward the west-northwest near 15 mph. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 30 miles from the center, while tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles.
An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft is scheduled to investigate Lee tonight, which should provide much-needed data to better evaluate the hurricane’s intensity.
Confidence remains high in the track for Lee, with almost no change made to the NHC track forecast. Lee should continue moving west-northwestward along the southern edge of the subtropical ridge for the next 5 days. The ridge is forecast to weaken by early next week, causing Lee to slow down, but any potential northward turn and specific impacts beyond a week are uncertain.
The biggest risk from Lee during the next 5 days will be high seas and dangerous surf. Rip currents and hazardous surf will spread across the northern Caribbean by Friday and begin impacting the U.S. mainland by Sunday.
Below you will find the NHC’s Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch’s Tropical Atlantic Marine Weather Briefing for today, Thursday, September 7, which details the main hazards related to Hurricane Lee and Tropical Storm Margot, which has just formed in the eastern Atlantic.
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