Hurricane Lee Satellite imagery and data from Hurricane Hunters indicated on Sunday that it had re-strengthened into a Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph.
The powerful storm, which has fluctuated in intensity throughout its duration in the open Atlantic, is expected to become a more dangerous Category 4 late Sunday or early Monday morning, the National Hurricane Center said.
“Dangerous surf and rip currents are beginning to reach the southeastern (US) East Coast and are forecast to worsen and spread northward over much of the US East Coast over the next two days. National Hurricane Center said in an update on Sunday.
Lee is forecast to slow significantly as it moves north of Puerto Rico, the British and US Virgin Islands and the northern Leeward Islands, but will continue to impact there and other Caribbean islands. It is too early to determine its long-term track later this week and how significant the impacts will be in the northeastern US states, Bermuda and Atlantic Canada.
By midweek, Lee will make a northward turn, eventually moving between Bermuda and the US East Coast this weekend.
The east coast braces for the same kind of big swells and rip currents that the Caribbean islands are now facing.
A satellite image provided by NOAA shows Hurricane Lee bearing down on the Atlantic.
“Swells developed by Lee are affecting parts of the Lesser Antilles,” the National Hurricane Center warned Friday night. The British and US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, Turks and Caicos Islands, Bahamas and Bermuda face swells that could bring life-threatening surf and rip conditions this weekend.
According to the National Weather Service office in San Juan, Puerto Rico, swells of 6 to 10 feet are forecast for Sunday. Big waves are expected this week along east and north facing coasts.
“Coastal erosion and coastal flooding possible” Office published On social media.
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Lee was centered about 285 miles north-northeast of the northern Leeward Islands at 5 p.m. Sunday, moving west-northwest at 8 mph.
Vertical wind shear and an eyewall replacement circulation — a process that occurs with most long-lived major hurricanes — then led to the storm weakening, the hurricane center said.
Computer model trends for Lee show the hurricane turning north early this week. But when that turnaround happens, and how far west Lee can control by then, will play a big role in how close the U.S. gets.
Several steering factors in the surface and upper levels of the atmosphere will determine how close Lee will come to the East Coast.
Lee’s likely path next week will be determined by several atmospheric factors, including a strong area of high pressure to its east (yellow circle) and the jet stream to its west (silver arrows).
An area of high pressure over the Atlantic known as the Bermuda High can have a major impact on how quickly the lee changes. A strong Bermuda High will keep Lee on its current west-northwest track and slow it down a bit.
As high pressure weakens this week, the lee will begin to move northward. Once that turn to the north occurs, the state of the jet stream — the strong upper-level winds that can change the direction of a hurricane’s path — will affect how close Lee gets to the United States.
Track view: An area of high pressure (yellow circle) east of Lee and a jet stream (silver arrows) west of Lee, tracking the storm between the two, away from the US coast.
If the high pressure weakens significantly, Lee could turn north quickly early this week.
If the jet stream sets up along the east coast, it will act as a barrier preventing the lee from approaching the coast. This scenario would keep Lee far from the US coast, but could bring the storm closer to Bermuda.
Track view: A high pressure area to the east of Lee (yellow circle) and a jet stream (silver arrows) to the west of Lee, with the storm tracking near the US coast between the two.
Lee may slowly turn northward as high pressure strengthens, and the jet stream sets inland over the eastern United States. This scenario leaves parts of the East Coast, mainly north of the Carolinas, vulnerable to Lee’s close approach.