A new tropical storm has formed in the Atlantic Ocean and is expected to intensify into an “extremely dangerous” hurricane by the weekend.
Tropical Storm Lee was announced by the National Hurricane Center (NHC) at 5pm (eastern time) on Tuesday.
Its wind speeds picked up on Tuesday afternoon and are now 45mph with higher gusts. Lee is forecast to become a hurricane within a couple of days and will likely become a major hurricane by Friday, NHC reported.
“The depression is forecast to become a major hurricane by this weekend and could bring impacts to the Leeward Islands by that time,” NHC reported.
The storm is currently about 1,300 miles east of the Lesser Antilles, moving west-northwest at 16mph through the eastern Caribbean, and is expected to pass north of Puerto Rico before potentially making a swing towards Bermuda.
Meteorologist Ryan Maue suggested on X, formerly Twitter, that Lee could become a “monstrous storm” in the Category 4 or 5 range but travel “safely north” of the Leeward Islands and Puerto Rico.
The latest storm threat comes less than a week after the west coast of Florida was battered by Category 3 Hurricane Idalia.
The remnants of Idalia, and another hurricane, Franklin, were causing strong ocean rip currents along the mid-Atlantic coast with at least eight deaths reported over the Labor Day holiday weekend.
5PM AST Sep 5: Tropical Storm #Lee expected to rapidly intensify into an extremely dangerous hurricane by the weekend. Stay up to date with the latest at https://t.co/tW4KeGe9uJ pic.twitter.com/uiYYCjKHG3
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) September 5, 2023
The Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from 1 June to 30 November, is forecast to be above average this year. Late August and early September are typically the season’s peak.
Ocean temperatures have hit historic highs this summer. Warming oceans fuel stronger tropical cyclones that bring more heavy rainfall and higher storm surge when they make landfall, according to Climate Central.