Large oceans swells are expected to reach the Lesser Antilles, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico through the weekend.
Hurricane Lee is expected to become “extremely dangerous” by Friday, with the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) warning of life-threatening swells near the northeast Caribbean.
“Lee forecast to become an extremely dangerous major hurricane by Friday … large ocean swells likely to reach Lesser Antilles, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico through the week-end,” the NHC tracker said in its latest update on Thursday.
It added that such swells are likely to cause life-threatening waves and rips.
According to the National Weather Service in San Juan, the seas around Puerto Rico could rise by 12 feet (3.7 metres).
“There is still too much uncertainty regarding rainfall and possible wind impacts, as Lee is forecast to pass a couple hundred miles north of the islands,” it said.
Hurricane #Lee Advisory 7: Lee Forecast to Become an Extremely Dangerous Major Hurricane By Friday. Large Ocean Swells Likely to Reach the Lesser Antilles, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico Through the Weekend. https://t.co/tW4KeGe9uJ
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) September 7, 2023
In its previous update late on Wednesday, the NHC said that the hurricane was located about 1,130 miles (1,815km) east of the northern Leeward Islands. It had maximum sustained winds of 75mph (120km/h) and was moving west-northwest at 14mph (22km/h).
Current projections show it not making landfall but passing just northeast of the British Virgin Islands, which is still recovering from hurricanes Maria and Irma in September 2017.
“It has the potential to become a powerhouse Category 5 hurricane, the strongest hurricane of the year,” Jonathan Porter, chief meteorologist for AccuWeather, told The Associated Press.
Lee is the 12th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30.
The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration warned in August that this year’s season would produce an above-normal number of storms.
Between 14 to 21 named storms are forecast. Of those, six to 11 could become hurricanes, with two to five of them possibly becoming major hurricanes, the agency said.