Hurricane Lee forms in Atlantic, expected to become 'extremely dangerous' storm
The National Hurricane Center said Wednesday that Lee has strengthened into a hurricane and forecast to be a major one by Friday.
In the 5 p.m. advisory, Lee had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph, which was 1 mph above the designation. In the 11 p.m. update, Lee's winds increased to 80 mph and was traveling west-northwest at 14 mph.
The storm was about 1,035 miles east of the Northern Leeward Islands.
The storm is expected to become an "extremely dangerous major hurricane" by early Friday with winds of 150 mph as it churns west in the Atlantic Ocean. First Alert meteorologist James Wieland said it could even become a Category 5 with winds 156 mph or more.
A strong trough is expected to turn the storm north, away from Florida and the Bahamas, according to WPTV First Alert Weather chief meteorologist Steve Weagle.
"(Hurricane Lee) may be an issue for the Northeast or maybe even Atlantic Canada," Weagle said. "That would be well over a week from now."
"All the models, every one of them make that curve up the north," Wieland said. "It's just where is that going to happen?"
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 15 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 90 miles.
Life-threatening swells and rip current conditions are likely across portions of the Lesser Antilles, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, the Bahamas and Bermuda through the weekend.
Elsewhere in the tropics:
The NHC is monitoring a strong tropical wave, called Invest 96, located off the coast of west Africa. The system could also become a tropical depression over the far eastern Atlantic later this week as it moves to the west-northwest at about 15 mph. The system has a 70% chance of tropical cyclone formation over the next seven days.
Post-Tropical Cyclone Franklin is a few hundred miles west-northwest of the northwest coast of Spain. Formation chance through seven days is 30%.
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