Hurricane Lee is expected to bring life-threatening weather conditions to the northeast Caribbean as it develops into a major hurricane by Friday.
It is not projected to make landfall but is expected to pass north of the British Virgin Islands.
The area is still recovering from hurricanes Maria and Irma, which struck land six years ago.
‘The environment around the cyclone looks ideal for rapid intensification,’ the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.
Deadly ocean waves are expected to hit the Lesser Antilles on September 8 and reach the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, the Bahamas and Bermuda in the following days.
Lee could become the first Category 5 storm of the Atlantic season.
.@NOAA‘s #GOESEast satellite is watching #Hurricane #Lee closely as it spins east of the Leeward Islands this morning. @NHC_Atlantic predicts the storm will rapidly intensify into a major hurricane (category 3 or higher).
Latest updates: https://t.co/ScLdyBaJZb pic.twitter.com/iluy4m3IGo— NOAA Satellites (@NOAASatellites) September 7, 2023
The storm was located around 960 miles from the northern Leeward Islands. It had recorded winds of up to 80 mph and was moving west-northwest at 13 mph.
Lee is the 12th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season which spans June 1 to November 30 and peaks in September.
The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration forecasted between 14 to 21 named storms within those six months.
Six to 11 of the storms were anticipated to become hurricanes and two to five of those could develop into major hurricanes.
NOAA has classified Lee as a tropical cyclone.
It is defined as a rotating, organized system of clouds and thunderstorms that forms over tropical or subtropical waters and has a closed low-level circulation.
Tropical cyclones develop when a cluster of thunderstorms forms over warm tropical oceans.
If that cluster remains in an area of low pressure, it can start rotating. Under certain conditions, the cluster of thunderstorms can grow in size until it sustains itself and develops into a cyclone.
The cyclone survives as long as it can siphon heat energy from the ocean. If it can no longer do so, it will die out.
Forecasters said tropical storm conditions are possible on some islands while meteorologists said it was too early to anticipate the amount of rainfall and wind.