Category 3 Hurricane Lee expected to regain strength. But Florida might avoid the worst (2024)

Hurricane Lee remains a dangerous hurricane in the central Atlantic, according to the National Hurricane Center, but the forecast models do have some good news.

Lee was a Category 3 hurricane Saturday morning with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph. It had been as strong as Category 5 with winds over 157 mph a little more than a day ago.

While initial forecasts of 180 mph winds have dampened, Lee is still expected to pick up intensity next week and remain a major hurricane as it moves closer to the U.S. mainland. The good news: Most forecasts have the storm making a sharp turn away from Florida and the East Coast.

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Highlights from 5 p.m. advisory

  • Lee has slowed its forward speed, moving west-northwest near 10 mph. Its maximum sustained winds remain at 115 mph, making a Category 3 hurricane.
  • Swells generated by Lee have begun on the Lesser Antilles and are expected to spread west. Dangerous surf and rip currents are expected along most of the U.S. East Coast beginning Sunday.
  • Lee is expected to remain a powerful hurricane through early next week.
  • It is too soon to know what level of impacts, if any, Lee might have along the U.S. East Coast, Atlantic Canada, or Bermuda late next week, particularly since the hurricane is expected to slow down considerably over the southwestern Atlantic.

Spaghetti models show Hurricane Lee is expected to turn north next week, leading some communities in New England to begin making preparations.

Elsewhere, Tropical Storm Margot also slowed down over the open tropical eastern Atlantic, and it is expected to become a hurricane next week.

'Incredible':Hurricane Lee to pose 'extreme' risk at East Coast beaches

What impact will Hurricane Lee have on Florida?

While Lee is expected to remain east of Florida, the coast will still feel its effects from higher surf and a higher chance of rip currents, tweeted the National Weather Service, Melbourne.

AccuWeather forecasters said Florida should avoid a direct hit, "which will prevent Lee's high winds and flooding rain from reaching areas recently hard-hit by Idalia, including Florida to North Carolina."

Forecast path: Where will Hurricane Lee go?

It's too early to know exactly where Lee will turn and how strong it will be, AccuWeather forecasters said.

"Starting as early as Sunday, seas and surf will build to dangerous levels along the central and northern coast of Florida and expand northward through the mid-Atlantic and New England coasts next week," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Joe Lundberg said.

The long-range forecast into next week hinges on the interactions between several key weather systems over the next few days: the hurricane, a high pressure ridge that expands and shrinks across the western Atlantic Ocean that often steers hurricanes and a southward dip in the jet stream that will push a low pressure area toward Lee.

Here's the latest update from NHC as of 5 a.m.:

Hurricane Lee down to a Category 3 storm

Category 3 Hurricane Lee expected to regain strength. But Florida might avoid the worst (2)

Special note on the NHC cone:The forecast track shows the most likely path of the center of the storm. It does not illustrate the full width of the storm or its impacts, and the center of the storm is likely to travel outside the cone up to 33% of the time.

  • Location: 310 miles northeast of the northern Leeward Islands
  • Maximum sustained winds: 115 mph
  • Movement: west-northwest at 10 mph
  • Pressure: 958 mb
  • Spaghetti models for Hurricane Lee

As of the 5 p.m. NHC advisory, the center of Hurricane Lee was located near latitude 20.7 North, longitude 59.1 West. Lee is moving west-northwest near 10 mph. A slower west-northwest motion is expected during the next few days.

On the forecast track, Lee is expected to pass well north of the northern Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico into early next week.

Maximum sustained winds are near 115 mph with higher gusts. Lee is a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Sampson Hurricane Wind Scale. Gradual restrengthening is possible over the next couple of days.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 40 miles from the center, and tropical-storm force winds extend outward up to 185 miles. NOAA buoy 40144, located about 85 miles north-northeast of the center of Lee, reported a peak sustained wind of 54 mph with a gust of 67 mph within the past couple of hours.

The minimum central pressure estimated from Hurricane Hunter aircraft data is 958 mb.

Hurricane Lee maximum sustained winds remain at 115 mph

Prediction and timing of winds:

  • 12 hours: 120 mph
  • 24 hours: 125 mph
  • 36 hours: 130 mph
  • 48 hours: 140 mph
  • 60 hours: 140 mph
  • 72 hours: 130 mph
  • 96 hours: 120 mph
  • 120 hours: 115 mph

A Category 4 hurricane has maximum sustained winds of 130-156 mph. A Category 5 hurricane has maximum sustained winds of at least 157 mph.

Spaghetti models for Hurricane Lee

Special note about spaghetti models: Illustrations include an array of forecast tools and models, and not all are created equal. The hurricane center uses only the top four or five highest performing models to help make its forecasts.

Tropical Storm Margot

Category 3 Hurricane Lee expected to regain strength. But Florida might avoid the worst (3)
  • Location: 1,020 miles west-northwest of Cabo Verde Islands
  • Maximum sustained winds: 45 mph
  • Direction: northwest at 9 mph

At 5 p.m., the center of Tropical Storm Margot is located near latitude 21.0 North, longitude 38.7 West. Margot is moving northwest near 9 mph, and this motion is expected to continue during the next day or so. A north-northwest to northward movement is forecast to begin by late Sunday.

Maximum sustained winds are near 45 mph with higher gusts. Gradual strengthening is forecast over the next several days, and Margot is forecast to become a hurricane early next week.

Tropical-storm force winds extend outward up to 45 miles from the center. The estimated minimum central pressure is 1,004 mb.

Who is likely to be impacted?

Swells generated by Hurricane Lee are affecting portions of the Lesser Antilles and will spread west to the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Bahamas and Bermuda through the weekend. These swells are expected to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

Dangerous surf and rip current conditions are expected to begin along most of the U.S. East Coast on Sunday and Monday and worsen through the week.

It's too early at this time to determine if there will be any impact to the U.S. from Tropical Storm Margot.

Forecasters urge all residents to continuemonitoring the tropics and to always be prepared.

Weather watches and warnings issued in Florida

When is the Atlantic hurricane season?

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.

When is the peak of hurricane season?

Category 3 Hurricane Lee expected to regain strength. But Florida might avoid the worst (4)

The peak of the season is Sept. 10, with the most activity happening between mid-August and mid-October, according to the Hurricane Center.

Tropical forecast over the next seven days

Excessive rainfall forecast

What's out there?

Systems currently being monitored by the National Hurricane Center.

Category 3 Hurricane Lee expected to regain strength. But Florida might avoid the worst (5)

What's next?

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Category 3 Hurricane Lee expected to regain strength. But Florida might avoid the worst (2024)

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