Hurricane Lee has grown back into a Category 3 major hurricane expected to gain some strength this week in the Atlantic while the National Hurricane Center keeps tabs on Tropical Storm Margot and two more systems with a chance to develop.
As of 5 a.m. Monday, Lee was located about 340 miles north of the Caribbean’s northern Leeward Islands and 650 miles south-southeast of Bermuda moving northwest at 7 mph with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph and higher gusts. Its hurricane-force winds extend out 75 miles and tropical-storm-force winds extend out 185 miles.
“A slow west-northwestward motion is expected during the next couple of days, followed by a gradual turn toward the north by midweek,” forecasters said. “On the forecast track, Lee is expected to pass well north of the northern Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico during the next day or two.”
While not any current threat to land, Bermuda is within the cone of uncertainty, and its waves are expected to threaten conditions along the U.S. coast including Florida today after having already filtered across the Atlantic hitting parts of the Lesser Antilles, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, Turks and Caicos, Bahamas and Bermuda.
“These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions,” forecasters said. “Dangerous surf and rip currents have begun to
affect portions of the southeastern U.S. coast, and these conditions are forecast to spread northward along much of the U.S. East Coast during the next couple of days.”
Hurricane #Lee has revived back to Category 3 strength with a reemerging eye. Currently creeping west-northwest, Lee is still forecast to turn to the north and stay offshore the U.S. East Coast but dangerous surf and rip currents are expected as Lee treks north and grows in size. pic.twitter.com/m7wshllWBA
— UW-Madison CIMSS (@UWCIMSS) September 10, 2023
The intensity forecast has the system growing to Category 4 with 130 mph sustained winds and 160 mph gusts later Monday and remaining a major hurricane through Wednesday. The erratic storm had last week grown in less than half a day from a Category 1 hurricane with 80 mph winds up to Category 5 status with 160 mph winds topping out at 165 mph 12 hours later before dropping back down to Category 2 and now growing again.
Its track could see Hurricane Lee’s wind field affect Bermuda followed by an uncertain path that could threaten the U.S. northeast states or Canada.
“It remains too soon to know what level of impacts, if any, Lee might have along the U.S. East Coast and Atlantic Canada late this week, especially since the hurricane is expected to slow down considerably over the southwestern Atlantic,” forecasters said.
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Margot is moving north over the open central subtropical Atlantic.
At 5 a.m., Margot’s center was located about 1,215 miles northwest of the Cape Verde Islands moving north at 8 mph with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph. Its tropical-storm-force winds extend out 90 miles.
“This general motion is expected to continue during the next several days,” forecasters said. “Strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Margot is likely to become a hurricane tonight.”
It would make Margot the fifth hurricane of the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season after Don, Franklin, Idalia and Lee.
Elsewhere in the Atlantic, the NHC was tracking two systems with a chance to form into the season’s next tropical depression or storm. If either spin up to named-storm status, they could become Tropical Storm Nigel with Tropical Storm Ophelia up after.
The more likely of the two this week is a tropical wave in the far eastern tropical Atlantic that moved off the coast of west Africa on Sunday producing some disorganized showers and thunderstorms.
“Environmental conditions appear conducive for gradual development of this system during the latter part of the week, and a tropical depression could
form by the weekend while it moves westward to west-northwestward at 15 to 20 mph over the central tropical Atlantic,” forecasters said.
The NHC gives it 60% chance to develop in the next seven days.
A closer system, but with lower chances is in the eastern tropical Atlantic several hundred miles west-southwest of the Cape Verde Islands with limited and disorganized shower and thunderstorm activity.
“Additional development of this system is becoming increasingly unlikely before it merges with a tropical wave to its east during the next couple of days,” forecasters said.
The NHC gives it a 10% chance to form in the next two to seven days.
The 2023 season that runs from June 1-Nov. 30 has already produced 13 named storms.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s most recent hurricane forecast updated in August increased its prediction for an above-average season expecting 14-21 named storms, of which 6-11 could become hurricanes and 2-5 could become major hurricanes.