ORLANDO, Fla. – Hurricane Lee powered up on Thursday from a Category 1 hurricane in the morning to a Category 5 in fewer than 24 hours. An impressive storm to say the least and the strongest so far for the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season.
The latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center predicts that Lee will continue to weaken in the next several hours due to entering an unfavorable atmospheric environment.
Dry air and wind shear are affecting the progression of this storm. As of the 5 a.m. advisory Saturday, Lee is a Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph, moving west-northwest at 12 mph.
It’s about 385 miles east-northeast of the Leeward Islands. On Sunday, it’s expected to ramp back up to a major Category 3 hurricane and continue to strengthen as it moves into favorable conditions.
The great news is that Lee is expected to not directly impact land in the next five days, and currently there are no tropical watches or warnings issued anywhere. Lee will continue to create swells near the Lesser Antilles today and Sunday.
Computer models in the next five days are in solid agreement projecting a curve to the north sometime on Wednesday. It’ll slow forward speed as it begins to turn and stay over open waters. Global forecast models including the GFS and EURO show Lee staying well away from Florida next week.
Based on the projection, Lee would not pose an immediate threat to Florida or the southeastern U.S.
Confidence is growing with Lee making that turn to the north on Wednesday, and here’s why.
An area of high pressure over the Atlantic is expected to weaken, allowing the Jet Stream to take a dramatic dip to the south. Due to these steering factors, models are in consensus showing Lee curving to the north as early as Wednesday.
Lee is generally being steered on the southern edge of that area of high pressure. As that high continues to weaken and condense, Lee with continue to move along the edge. The jet stream will act as a pulling mechanism, steering it north.
When Lee eventually makes that turn to the north, indirect impacts are expected along the Atlantic coast. Increasing swells are likely Tuesday and Wednesday along eastern Florida. Strong rip currents are likely.
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