Lee to rapidly strengthen into a major hurricane. Here’s what’s steering the storm

Models show sharp turn north but uncertainty remains beyond the weekend

Hurricane Lee (Copyright 2023 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

ORLANDO, Fla. – Lee could be one for the books by early next week. The storm, which officially developed Tuesday, is expected to rapidly strengthen over the weekend into at least a Category 4 hurricane as it passes north of the Caribbean.

Given the near-perfect environment of limited wind shear and record-hot water temperatures, Lee reaching Category 5 intensity is a strong possibility.

The intensity at this point is much more certain than the long-term track, however.

In the short-term, confidence is high that a strengthening Lee will lift north of the Caribbean islands. A ridge of high pressure over the Central Atlantic will steer Lee northwest. The uncertainty builds as to where Lee will make its turn north.

Most models currently lift Lee safely away from the U.S.

A dip in the jet stream is forecast to move into the Deep South early next week.

This will tend to make Lee turn north as the storm feels the influence of it.

Steering pattern for Lee

The dip in the Jet Stream over the Deep South should prevent Lee from coming too far west and directly impacting Florida and the Southeast U.S.

A complex jet stream pattern over northern North America is adding to the uncertainty after Lee lifts north of the Caribbean. This means more for the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and Canadian Maritimes, however. A later turn north would increase the chances of land interaction north of the Southeast U.S.

Overall confidence in when Lee will turn will improve as critical data gets ingested into forecast models from upcoming hurricane hunter missions.

Data over the Atlantic Ocean is limited due to the lack of weather observing sites, which adds to the initial uncertainty of the strength and position of the steering currents once Lee gets to Monday.

The first missions into Lee will start Thursday evening. Confidence will grow significantly over the weekend as to where Lee will turn early next week.

Watch how the models trend over the weekend as reliable data begins to flow into them.

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About the Author:

Jonathan Kegges joined the News 6 team in June 2019 and now covers weather on TV and all digital platforms.