The first Category 5 storm of the Atlantic season, Hurricane Lee, continues to whirl through the Atlantic with sustained wind speeds of around 155 mph.
In a stunning transformation, it strengthened rapidly Thursday into a major Category 5 storm before returning to a still-powerful Category 4 on Friday.
This update comes from the National Hurricane Center’s 11 a.m. advisory, which places the hurricane about 565 miles east of the northern Leeward Islands, with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph. It is moving 13 mph to the west-northwest.
What’s particularly interesting is that Lee intensified in an astonishingly short time over the Atlantic Ocean’s warm waters, growing from a Category 1 storm on Wednesday to a Category 5 on Thursday night.
And it appears that it’s not done strengthening yet. The forecast for Lee indicates that it will continue gaining power Friday and “remain a major hurricane through early next week,” the Center said.
“On the forecast track, Lee is expected to pass well to the north of the northern Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico over the weekend and into early next week,” meteorologists observe.
The spaghetti weather models, which show the storm’s potential paths, mostly indicate the storm will take a northern turn away from the East Coast. While it’s too early to say whether or not it will make landfall or where it would hit if it does, there are no coastal warnings or watches in effect at this time.
Swells generated by Lee are likely to cause “dangerous surf and rip currents” along the U.S.’s East Coast beginning Sunday, according to the Center.
Check back for updates as more information becomes available regarding the storm.