Hurricane Lee is forecast to push dangerous surf along the East Coast

Hurricane Lee is expected to restrengthen in the coming days, the National Hurricane Center said Sunday.

Hurricane Lee is expected to restrengthen in the coming days, the National Hurricane Center said Sunday. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association/Screenshot by NPR)

Updated September 10, 2023 at 6:14 PM ET

Hurricane Lee, a powerful Category 3 storm, is expected to steer well north of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands over the next couple of days, the National Hurricane Center said. But the hurricane is gathering strength and could bring dangerous surf conditions along much of the U.S. East Coast beginning on Sunday.

The hurricane, packing maximum sustained winds of close to 120 mph with higher gusts, is already causing life-threatening rip currents affecting parts of the Lesser Antilles, the British and Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Bahamas and Bermuda, forecasters said Sunday evening.

The dangerous surf conditions had begun to hit portions of the southeast East Coast and are forecast to worsen and spread northward along much of the East Coast during the next couple of days, the center said.

Later this week, Lee is expected to swing west of Bermuda, and could bring wind, rain and high surf to the island, according to forecasters, but said it’s too soon to determine the specific timing and level of those impacts.

Still, no coastal watches or warnings for Hurricane Lee were in effect at the time.

Lee’s forecast has fluctuated wildly in recent days. It quickly reached Category 5 strength over record-high water temperatures in the Atlantic before being downgraded early Saturday. The hurricane picked up wind speed on Sunday, and is expected to strengthen further on Monday and Tuesday, with some fluctuations, the center said.

A Category 3 storm, considered a major hurricane, can cause devastating damage to well-built framed homes, knock down trees, as well as cut off power and water supply for several days.

“It remains too soon to know what level of impacts, if any, Lee might have along the East Coast and Atlantic Canada late next week, especially since the hurricane is expected to slow down considerably over the southwestern Atlantic,” the center said in a 5 p.m. ET advisory on Sunday.

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