Tropical storm update: Hurricane Lee downgraded to Category 3 storm as US impacts still ‘too soon to know’: Live


Hurricane Lee downgraded to Category 3

Hurricane Lee exploded into a powerful Category 5 storm within 24 hours as it whirled across the open Atlantic Ocean but has been downgraded to a Category 3, though forecasters predict the storm could gain strength over the weekend and into next week.

“Confidence in the intensity forecast is low at the moment, although it is likely that Lee will remain a dangerous hurricane for at least the next [five] days,” according to the National Hurricane Center.

It remains “too soon to know” what its potential impacts “if any” along the US Atlantic seaboard could look like, though “dangerous surf and rip currents are expected” on Sunday and Monday and could “worsen” in the coming week, the center announced.

The storm is expected to pass “pass well to the north of the northern Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico into early next week,” according to a Saturday afternoon advisory. Maximum sustained winds are near 115 mph with higher gusts, and gradual “restrengthening” is possible during the next couple of days.

“Life-threatening surf and rip current conditions” are expected to reach the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Bahamas, and Bermuda through the weekend, while “dangerous surf and rip currents” are expected along the US East Coast on Sunday and Monday and are likely to worsen through the week.

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‘A major wave producer’

It still remains far too early to tell what Lee will look like for the East Coast as it creeps along a northeastern track, but forecasters predict high seas and rip currents up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

“What we are going to see from Lee – and we’re very confident – is it’s going to be a major wave producer,” National Hurricane Center director Mike Brennan said in a Friday briefing.

On Saturday, large swells battered the northeast Caribbean as Lee churned through open waters hundreds of miles off the northern Leeward Islands, the Associated Press reported.

The highest waves recorded by the center were at about 45 and 50 feet, and the “highest waves could even be double that,” Mr Brennan said.

“So we could be looking at 80-, 90-foot waves associated with Lee,” he added.

A satellite image from NOAA shows Category 3 Hurricane Lee in the Atlanic Oean on 9 September.

(NOAA/GOES/AFP via Getty Images)

Alex Woodward10 September 2023 01:00

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How close will Lee get to the US?

Exactly when or how Lee will travel northeast is still too early to tell. What happens next is up to a combination of atmospheric factors, including an area of high pressure in the Atlantic Ocean and a jet stream to its west.

That area of high pressure is likely to play a major role in Lee’s track, and is expected to keep Lee on its current west-northwestward path over the weekend. That scenario would keep the storm rotating out to sea, or send it closer to Bermuda.

The storm is still roughly one week from posing a potential threat to the East Coast of the US, if it poses any at all.

Alex Woodward9 September 2023 23:00

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Latest Lee advisory: Hurricane expected to pass north of Leeward Islands while generating dangerous waves over weekend

Hurricane Lee, still a Category 3 storm, is expected to pass “pass well to the north of the northern Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico into early next week,” according to an afternoon advisory from the National Hurricane Center.

Maximum sustained winds are near 115 mph with higher gusts, and gradual “restrengthening” is possible during the next couple of days, the center predicts.

Swells generated by Lee are affecting portions of the Lesser Antilles and will spread westward to the British and US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Bahamas, and Bermuda through the weekend. Those swells are “likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions,” according to the report.

“Dangerous surf and rip currents” are also expected along the US East Coast on Sunday and Monday and then worsen through the week.

Alex Woodward9 September 2023 22:10

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Too soon to tell but too soon to rule out significant impacts, forecasters say

Hurricane Lee was significantly disrupted by wind shear within the 24 hours after it accelerated into a Category 5 hurricane, as it then degraded into a Category 4 then Category 3 into Saturday morning.

Models are suggesting that the shear will subside by Sunday morning, which could allow Lee to gain more strength as it continues to track east, according to Levi Cowan with Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

“Regardless of Lee’s exact intensity, it will be a major hurricane tracking north of the Caribbean and then turning northward over the western Atlantic over the next week,” he said.

“It remains too soon to rule out impacts from Lee” as models predict it could track forwards Bermuda, Canada and the northeastern US, he added.

Alex Woodward9 September 2023 22:00

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Lee shattered ‘rapid intensification’ standards, a warning of future storms amid growing climate crisis

Hurricane Lee’s acceleration from an 80 mph Cat 1 to a Cat 5 with 160 mph winds within 24 hours has surpassed the standards meteorologists typically associate with “rapid intensification,” or when winds increase by 35 mph within that same time period.

It not only makes Lee the fastest-intensifying Atlantic storm on record, it has set a new threshold that scientists see as a potential harbinger for what’s to come as the climate crisis accelerates.

“This one increased by 80 mph,” Marshall Shepherd, director of the University of Georgia’s Atmospheric Sciences Program and a past president of the American Meteorological Society told the Associated Press. “I can’t emphasize this enough – we used to have this metric of 35 mph, and here’s a storm that did twice that amount and we’re seeing that happen more frequently.”

Alex Woodward9 September 2023 21:02

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Lee and Margot could mingle in the Atlantic

Newly formed Tropical Storm Margot is expected to grow into a hurricane next week, raising the possibility that Hurricane Lee’s path could be changed, though it is still far too soon to project whether the two major storms could get close to one another in the Atlantic.

Such a phenomenon, when two storms rotate around each other and spin in the same direction, is called the Fujiwhara effect. The National Weather Service describes it as “an intense dance around their common center.”

That could then push them both around the Atlantic and alter their paths.

The phenomenon occured with hurricanes Hilary and Irwin in the East Pacific in 2017.

Alex Woodward9 September 2023 18:57

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Watch Lee intensify from Category 1 to Category 5 storm

Lee marked the first Category 5 hurricane of this year’s Atlantic season when it rapidly grew from a Category 1 within 24 hours this week. There have been seven other Cat 5 storms from the Atlantic since 2016, with one – Michael – making landfall in the US in 2018.

Within thouse 24 hours, Hurricane Lee intensified from an 80 mph Cat 1 to a Cat 5 with 160 mph winds, likely making it the fastest-intensifying Atlantic storm on record.

Lee has since diminished to a Cat 3 storm and is expected to maintain its strength over the weekend.

Alex Woodward9 September 2023 18:04

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Lee ‘maintaining strength’ but ‘little change expected’ on Saturday

Hurricane Lee is “maintaing strength” as a recently downgraded Category 3 storm as it moves across the Atlanta Ocean with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph with higher gusts, according to the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center.

“Little change in strength is expected today, but gradual restrengthening is forecast to occur on Sunday and Monday,” according to the advisory.

Alex Woodward9 September 2023 16:25

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Lee is in rare company during an already-historic storm year

For the first time on record, Category 5 storms have formed in every tropical ocean basin within one year.

Lee, which has since downgraded to a Category 3 as it tracks along open Atlantic Ocean, accelerated from Category 1 strength into a Category 5 this week.

“I think it’s reasonable to hypothesize that the abnormally warm ocean temperatures around the world made this more likely to happen,” University of Miami, hurricane expert Brian McNoldy told The Washington Post. “Gives everything a boost.”

Alex Woodward9 September 2023 15:35

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‘Way too soon’ to chart US impacts, if any, but Lee could strengthen as it moves across open ocean

Hurricane Lee ramped up to a Category 5 storm within 24 hours this week, but it has been downgraded to a Category 3 and will likely lose strength over the course of the day as it struggles with wind shear.

The National Hurricane Center continues to stress it is still “way too soon” to know what impacts, if any, the storm could have along the East Coast of the US, and the storm could gain strength as it continues to move with sustained winds at 115 mph as of Saturday morning.

Dangerous and life-threatening rip currents are affecting parts of the Leeward Islands, according to NHC. Those conditions are expected to impact parts of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Bahamas and Bermuda over the weekend.

Alex Woodward9 September 2023 14:30



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