(As originally published with gallery and video, Fri, September 8th 2023, 1:33 PM EDT)
MIAMI (TND) — Hurricane Lee hit category 5 status, the most powerful and dangerous on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, with winds of 165 mph, early Friday morning.
Since then, as of the 11 a.m. ET advisory, the storm weakened slightly to a category 4 with winds near 155 mph.
“Fluctuations in intensity like what has occurred this morning are not uncommon in intense hurricanes,” according to the National Hurricane Center, and
“Lee is expected to remain a powerful hurricane through early next week.”
At midday Friday, Lee was moving west-northwest at 13 mph. That will continue through early next week before “a significant decrease in forward speed.”
A weakening subtropical ridge north of the storm will cause that slowdown. After that, forecasters are less confident in the track and the cone of uncertainty widens.
For now, the hurricane center says,
“The moderate shear over the hurricane is likely to continue during the next day or so.”
Hurricane-force winds extend 35 miles from the center and tropical storm-force winds extend 140 miles. There are no watches or warnings in effect.
Through early next week, the center of Lee should move well north of the northern Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.
That said, dangerous surf and life-threatening rip currents are likely in those islands and then Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas, and Bermuda through the weekend.
As for the U.S., Canada and Bermuda,
“It is way too soon to know what level of impacts, if any, Lee might have,” according to the hurricane center.
The forecasters will be able to predict further when the storm slows down, but they caution,
“Regardless, dangerous surf and rip currents are expected along most of the U.S. East Coast beginning Sunday.”
Further out in the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Margot is moving west-northwest. That will continue for another day or two. Then, early next week, it’ll turn more towards the northwest.