Category 3 Hurricane Lee remains hundreds of miles east of the Caribbean early Saturday, yet forecasters say the storm’s effects may have an impact on the US Atlantic seaboard as early as this weekend.
Lee was just shy of 400 miles east-northeast of the northern Leeward Islands as of 5 a.m. ET Saturday, whipping up maximum sustained winds of 115 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The hurricane, which earlier reached Category 5 status, could further weaken Saturday but is expected to re-strengthen over the weekend and remain strong into the middle of next week.
“Confidence in the intensity forecast is low at the moment, although it is likely that Lee will remain a dangerous hurricane for at least the next 5 days,” the hurricane center said Friday.
And while it’s still too early to determine whether this storm will directly impact the US mainland, Lee is expected to bring dangerous coastal conditions, including rip currents and large waves to parts of the US as soon as Sunday – regardless of its final track.
“Dangerous surf and rip currents are expected to begin along most of the US East Coast Sunday and Monday and worsen through the week,” the hurricane center said.
Caribbean islands will be similarly impacted by the storm as it moves slowly west-northwest through the Atlantic. Lee is expected to pass “well to the north” of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the northern Leeward Islands, forecasters said.
“Swells generated by Lee are affecting portions of the Lesser Antilles,” the hurricane center warned Friday night. The British and US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Bahamas and Bermuda will also face swells this weekend that can bring life-threatening surf and rip conditions.