Class 3 Hurricane Lee stays tons of of miles east of the Caribbean late Friday, but forecasters say the storm’s results might have an effect on the US Atlantic seaboard as early as this weekend.
Lee was about 440 miles east of the northern Leeward Islands as of 11 p.m. ET Friday, whipping up most sustained winds of 115 mph, in line with the Nationwide Hurricane Middle. The hurricane, which earlier reached Class 5 standing, may additional weaken Saturday however is anticipated to re-strengthen over the weekend and stay sturdy into the center of subsequent week.
“Confidence within the depth forecast is low for the time being, though it’s seemingly that Lee will stay a harmful hurricane for at the least the subsequent 5 days,” the hurricane middle stated Friday.
And whereas it’s nonetheless too early to find out whether or not this storm will straight impression the US mainland, Lee is anticipated to deliver harmful coastal situations, together with rip currents and enormous waves to elements of the US as quickly as Sunday – no matter its ultimate monitor.
“Harmful surf and rip currents are anticipated to start alongside a lot of the US East Coast Sunday and Monday and worsen by means of the week,” the hurricane middle stated.
Caribbean islands will likely be equally impacted by the storm because it strikes slowly west-northwest by means of the Atlantic. Lee is anticipated to go “effectively to the north” of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the northern Leeward Islands, forecasters stated.
“Swells generated by Lee are affecting parts of the Lesser Antilles,” the hurricane middle warned Friday night time. The British and US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Bahamas and Bermuda may even face swells this weekend that may deliver life-threatening surf and rip situations.
Lee hit a uncommon power that few storms have ever achieved. Solely 2% of storms within the Atlantic attain Class 5 power, in line with NOAA’s hurricane database. Together with Lee, solely 40 Class 5 hurricanes have roamed the Atlantic since 1924.
Lee, which was a Class 1 storm Thursday, intensified with distinctive velocity in heat ocean waters, greater than doubling its wind speeds to 165 mph in only a day.
The storm’s winds elevated by 85 mph in a 24-hour interval, which tied it with Hurricane Matthew for the third-fastest fast intensification within the Atlantic, in line with NOAA analysis meteorologist John Kaplan. The monstrous hurricane struck Haiti in 2016, killing tons of within the Caribbean nation whereas additionally wreaking havoc on elements of the US Southeast.
Class 5 is the best degree on the hurricane wind velocity scale and has no most level. Hurricanes hit this degree when their sustained winds attain 157 mph or increased. A 165-mph storm like Lee is identical class as Hurricane Allen, the Atlantic’s strongest hurricane on report, which topped out at 190 mph in 1980.
Hurricanes want the right combination of heat water, moist air and lightweight upper-level winds to accentuate sufficient to succeed in Class 5 power. Lee had all of those, particularly heat water amid the warmest summer season on report.
Sea-surface temperatures throughout the portion of the Atlantic Ocean that Lee is monitoring by means of are a staggering 2 levels Celsius (3.6 levels Fahrenheit) above regular after rising to “far above report ranges” this summer season, in line with David Zierden, Florida’s state climatologist.
Reaching Class 5 power has turn into extra frequent during the last decade. Lee is the eighth Class 5 since 2016, which means 20% of those exceptionally highly effective hurricanes on report in NOAA’s hurricane database have come within the final seven years.
The Atlantic shouldn’t be the one ocean to have spawned a monster storm in 2023. All seven ocean basins the place tropical cyclones can type have had a storm attain Class 5 power up to now this yr, together with Hurricane Jova, which reached Class 5 standing within the jap Pacific earlier this week.
Pc mannequin tendencies for Lee have proven the hurricane taking a flip to the north early subsequent week. However precisely when that flip happens and the way far west Lee will handle to trace by then will play an enormous function in how shut it will get to the US.
A number of steering components on the floor and higher ranges of the ambiance will decide how shut Lee will get to the East Coast.
An space of excessive stress over the Atlantic, often known as the Bermuda Excessive, could have a significant affect in how rapidly Lee turns. The Bermuda Excessive is anticipated to stay very sturdy into the weekend, which can preserve Lee on its present west-northwestward monitor and sluggish it down a bit.
Because the excessive stress weakens subsequent week it’ll permit Lee to start out transferring northward.
As soon as that flip to the north happens, the place of the jet stream – sturdy upper-level winds that may change the path of a hurricane’s path – will affect how intently Lee is steered to the US.
Situation: Out to Sea
Lee may make a fast flip to the north early subsequent week if excessive stress weakens considerably.
If the jet stream units up alongside the East Coast, it’ll act as a barrier that stops Lee from approaching the coast. This state of affairs would preserve Lee farther away from the US coast however may deliver the storm nearer to Bermuda.
Situation: Near East Coast
Lee may make a slower flip to the north as a result of the excessive stress stays sturdy, and the jet stream units up farther inland over the Japanese US. This state of affairs would go away parts of the East Coast, primarily north of the Carolinas, susceptible to a a lot nearer strategy from Lee.
All these components have but to come back into focus, and the hurricane continues to be at the least seven days from being a menace to the East Coast. Any potential US impression will turn into extra clear because the Lee strikes west within the coming days.