TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — As we near the peak of hurricane season, the National Hurricane Center is continuing to track Hurricane Lee and Tropical Storm Margot.
The NHC said Hurricane Lee is a “powerful” Category 5 storm and is expected to maintain its intensity over the next few days.
The NHC said Lee is moving toward the west-northwest at around 13 mph. The storm was located about 565 miles east of the Northern Leeward Islands.
Forecasters said 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.
The storm’s winds have decreased from 165 mph to 155 mph with higher gusts, categorizing it as a Category 4 strength hurricane.
The NHC said Lee’s strength is expected to fluctuate over the next few days, however, it is expected to remain a powerful hurricane through early next week.
“Hurricane Lee continues to strengthen and may reach 180 mph max winds as it travels to the north of the Leeward Islands,” said Max Defender 8 meteorologist Leigh Spann. “While the long-range forecast brings the system back to Category 4 status, it’ll still be a powerful storm. Next week, we will track when the storm turns north to determine if anyone on the US coast will feel impacts.”
Swells generated by Lee are expected to reach portions of the Lesser Antilles sometime Friday. The swells will reach the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Bahamas, and Bermuda this weekend.
“These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip currents conditions,” the NHC said.
Forecasters said dangerous surf and rip current conditions are expected to begin along most of the U.S. East Coast beginning Sunday.
The NHC is also tracking Tropical Storm Margot.
Forecasters said Margot is located about 460 miles west-northwest of the Cabo Verde Islands. The storm’s winds remain near 40 mph. It is expected to become a hurricane over the weekend.