Hurricane Lee rapidly strengthening as it churns towards Caribbean islands
Hurricane Lee rapidly intensified into a Category 5 storm on Thursday night as it spun towards the Caribbean islands with “life-threatening” conditions expected to develop in the coming days.
The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in its 11pm advisory that the storm could go through “further strengthening” overnight, which could make it one of the rarest hurricanes in the Atlantic.
Lee was located about 705 miles east of the northern Leeward Islands and is packing maximum sustained winds of 160mph.
Forecasters say Lee could become a “monster 180 mph” storm by Friday morning.
It is expected to pass well to the north of the northern Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico over the weekend and into early next week, the forecaster said.
The NHC has warned that dangerous beach conditions were expected to develop around the western Atlantic through early next week.
Lee is the 12th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from 1 June to 30 November.
What is El Nino and why is it intensifying this year’s hurricanes?
The UN’s World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has announced the return of the weather cycle El Nino, which could lead to record global temperatures this year.
After three years of the cooler La Nina pattern, which often lowers global temperatures slightly, the WMO announced on Tuesday that El Nino conditions were present and are expected to gradually strengthen into the winter.
The last significant El Nino event occurred in 2016, which has gone down as the warmest year the world has seen since records began.
Its recurrence in 2023, when global heating driven by man-made carbon emissions has only accelerated, threatens a “double whammy”, according to the WMO, which has warned there is a 90 per cent probability of it lasting to the year’s end.
That means the likelihood of extreme weather events that could prove life-threatening has also increased, prompting the organisation’s officials to caution world governments that they must be prepared.
Joe Sommerlad8 September 2023 12:30
Hurricanes are getting stronger. Here’s why
As the global average temperature increases, largely due to the carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels, the ocean is taking a major hit.
The ocean has absorbed 90 per cent of warming in recent decades and all that extra heat is driving historically high water temperatures.
Warmer waters supercharge tropical cyclones with more heavy rainfall and storm surge as they come ashore.While the frequency of hurricanes of tropical storms is not increasing, the chance that they become stronger, more destructive systems has increased by about 8 per cent per decade in the past 40 years, according to climate scientists.
The proportion of Category 4 and 5 tropical cyclones is projected to increase around the world in the coming decades due to human-caused warming, according to the latest report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from 1 June to 30 November, is forecast to be above average this year.
Stuti Mishra8 September 2023 12:00
Latest forecast: Lee maintining its intensity as Margo strengthens
Here’s the latest from the National Hurricane Center, which says Hurricane Lee is expected to maintain its current intensity while Tropical Storm Margo is now expected to strengthen too.
The centre says it is “way too soon to know what level of impacts, if any, Lee might have along the US East Coast”.
Joe Sommerlad8 September 2023 11:45
Meteorologist says eastern Canada, New Englanders are watching Hurricane Lee’s trajectory and hoping for an northeast swing
John Morales, NBC6’s hurricane expert, said residents of Canada’s easternmost provinces and New England in the US are likely watching Hurricane Lee’s expected trajectory as it intensified to a Category 5 storm.
While Hurricane Lee is expected to miss landfall in the Caribbean and Florida, it may take a northward turn, which could bring its effects — like significant storm surges and high winds — to the northeastern portion of North America.
“Residents of Canada’s easternmost provinces, and even New Englanders in the US, are aware of Lee and hoping that a northbound track will be followed by another turn to the northeast, sparing them,” Mr Morales said in his analysis.
Stuti Mishra8 September 2023 11:00
The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration warned in August that this year’s season would produce an above-normal number of storms. Between 14 to 21 named storms are forecast. Of those, six to 11 could become hurricanes, with two to five of them possibly becoming major hurricanes, the agency said.
Meanwhile, AccuWeather updated its forecast, predicting there would be three to five hurricanes Category 3 or stronger this season, compared with one to three in its previous analysis.
Stuti Mishra8 September 2023 10:15
How strong will Hurricane Lee become?
Hurricane Lee is expected to continue intensifying into Friday and it could attain wind speeds of 180mph or more in the next 12 hours, making it one of the strongest storms in the Atlantic.
Hotter ocean waters this year are contributing to rapid intensification of storms this year, experts have said. Water temperatures in this part of the Atlantic Ocean were record warm in August driven by man-made climate crisis.
Stuti Mishra8 September 2023 09:30
Hurricane Jova continues to churn in Pacific as Category 4 storm
In the Pacific, Hurricane Jova churned through open waters far from Mexico’s southwest coast as a Category 4 storm. It posed no threat to land.
It was located about 600miles (965km) southwest of the southern tip of Baja, California, and was moving west-northwest at 17mph (28kph) with winds up to 145mph (230kph). The storm was expected to start to weaken starting late on Thursday or early Friday.
Stuti Mishra8 September 2023 08:45
Another tropical storm, Margot, forms in the Atlantic
While all eyes are on rapidly intensifying Hurricane Lee, another tropical storm has formed in the Atlantic, the National Hurricane Center reported.
Tropical Storm Margot is expected to become a hurricane over the weekend, the NHC said,
The storm was spotted about 355 miles west of The Cabo Verde Islands with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph. It was moving west-northwest at 16 mph.
Stuti Mishra8 September 2023 08:03
How rare is Category 5 tropical storm?
Hurricane Lee is currently packing sustained winds of 160mph, making it a Category 5 tropical storm, which is set to intensify further to 180mph.
Lee is the first storm since Hurricane Ian last year to attain the Category 5 status and only 38 other Atlantic hurricanes have reached Category 5 intensity over the past 100 years.
Stuti Mishra8 September 2023 07:30
Here’s how quickly Hurricane Lee intensified
Hurricane Lee is being termed “one of the fastest” if not the fastest-developing storm ever recorded in the Atlantic, as it went from Category 1 on Thursday morning to Category 5 by the day’s end.
The storm is expected to intensify further to reach wind speeds of 180mph by Friday morning.
Here’s how Lee’s rapid intensification played out:
- Lee was a Category 1 storm with 80 mph winds at 5am ET on Thursday. Within 12 hours, its maximum sustained winds had increased to 130 mph, making it a Category 4 storm on the Saffir-Simpson intensity scale.
- By 11pm ET, the storm’s maximum sustained winds were 160 mph, making it now a Category 5 hurricane.
- The storm’s maximum sustained winds increased by just over 80 mph in 24 hours, according to the NHC. The escalation greatly exceeds the 35 mph increase needed to fit the definition of rapid intensification.
Stuti Mishra8 September 2023 07:00