Hurricane Lee, the first Category 5 storm of the season, is surging through the warm Atlantic waters and poses a threat to the northeast Caribbean. While there is no expectation of a direct landfall, meteorologists have raised concerns about the possibility of heavy swells along the northern coast of Puerto Rico and neighboring islands. These swells could reach heights of up to 15 feet (5 meters). It's important to note that tropical storm conditions are not anticipated for the region as Lee is projected to veer a couple hundred miles northeast of the Caribbean.
Although Hurricane Lee is immensely powerful, the National Hurricane Center reassures that its wind field is not excessively expansive. Currently positioned approximately 630 miles (1,015 kilometers) east of the northern Leeward Islands, the hurricane boasts wind speeds of up to 165 mph (270 kph). It is moving west-northwest at a speed of 14 mph (22 kph).
Forecasts indicate that Lee will strengthen further, potentially reaching wind speeds of up to 180 mph (290 kph). Since 1966, only seven Atlantic hurricanes have attained such magnitudes, as stated by Phil Klotzbach, a renowned hurricane researcher at Colorado State University. One notable storm among them was Hurricane Dorian, which devastated the northern Bahamas in 2019 as a long-lasting Category 5 hurricane.
The National Hurricane Center warns of dangerous surf and deadly rip currents that are expected to impact the northern Leeward Islands on Friday and progressively extend towards Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas, and Bermuda over the weekend.
Ernesto Morales, an official from the National Weather Service in San Juan, Puerto Rico, advises against visiting the beaches due to anticipated waves ranging between 10 and 15 feet (3 and 5 meters).
Dangerous Surf and Rip Currents Forecast for U.S. East Coast
The National Hurricane Center has issued a warning for dangerous surf and rip currents along the U.S. East Coast, effective from Sunday onwards.
Presidential Briefing and Preparations Underway
U.S. President Joe Biden received the latest trajectory and preparation details of the hurricane on Thursday. The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is actively involved in preparations, deploying undisclosed assets to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as confirmed by the White House.
12th Named Storm of the Atlantic Hurricane Season
Lee marks the 12th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, which officially extends from June 1 to November 30. September typically experiences the peak of hurricane activity.
Tropical Storm Margot Forms and Gains Strength
On Thursday evening, Tropical Storm Margot developed, becoming the 13th named storm of the season. Positioned approximately 460 miles (740 kilometers) west-northwest of the Cabo Verde Islands, it currently sustains winds of up to 40 mph (65 kph). Forecasts anticipate it strengthening into a hurricane over the weekend while maintaining a west-northwest direction over open waters.
NOAA's Seasonal Forecast
During August, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted a range of 14 to 21 named storms for the season. Of these, six to 11 were projected to become hurricanes, with two to five potentially developing into major hurricanes.
Hurricane Jova's Course Over Open Waters
Meanwhile, in the Pacific, Hurricane Jova, classified as a Category 2 storm, is meandering through the open waters, posing no threat to Mexico's southwest coast. Currently, it resides approximately 685 miles (1,100 kilometers) west-southwest of Baja California's southern tip. Sustaining winds of up to 110 mph (175 kph), it is moving in a west-northwest direction at a speed of 16 mph (26 kph).