Lee is a friggin’ giant!
Hurricane Lee continued to intensify “at an exceptional rate” Thursday evening, upgrading through multiple storm categories in just hours. It’s now at the maximum Category 5, hitting that point just prior to 11:00 PM ET, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The system is projected to move north of the Leeward Islands and Puerto Rico, and could slow down east-northeast of the Bahamas over the weekend. Currently, Lee is located around 780 miles east of the northern Leeward Islands, moving west-northwest at 15 MPH.
NHC’s forecast is the first time in history they’ve had a hurricane reaching a Category 5 when it was still at a 2. To put it even more into perspective of how truly powerful Lee is, some computer models have the storm strengthening into one of the strongest hurricanes in Atlantic Basin history — if not the strongest, period — due to warm ocean waters.
And no, it’s not because of climate change, lefties. It’s the peak of hurricane season.
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) September 8, 2023
Hurricane Lee was a Category 1 with winds of 80 MPH per NHC’s 5:00 AM ET report from Thursday, and then just 12 hours later at 5:00 PM ET, the storm picked up to 130 MPH to bring it to a Category 4. Six hours later, and the NHC has now bumped up the maximum sustained wind speed to 165 MPH.
Here are some visuals of this big boy, which has been reported by Colin McCarthy to have hit 180 MPH wind speeds.
Hurricane #Lee has explosively intensified into a Category 5 storm and is expected to peak as a monster 180 mph Cat 5.
One of the fastest intensifying Atlantic hurricanes ever observed. pic.twitter.com/38efxc07Bj
— Colin McCarthy (@US_Stormwatch) September 8, 2023
🚨#BREAKING: In just over 24 hours, Hurricane Lee has rapidly intensified from a tropical storm to an extremely dangerous and powerful Category 5 hurricane, with sustained winds of 160 mph, as it barrels through the Atlantic. pic.twitter.com/vC994c0SRB
— R A W S A L E R T S (@rawsalerts) September 8, 2023
END GAME – Hurricane Lee is becoming a Category 5 monster!
Forewarning: Cities under threat are New York, Boston, Massachusetts among others particularly in the Northeast Megalopolis. pic.twitter.com/JaFClqlyQr
— Jack Straw (@JackStr42679640) September 8, 2023
The projection path is still the same, with the northeastern United States and eastern Canada in particular needing to keep an eye on this thing.
NEW #LEE MODELS 🌀 As of Thursday afternoon, all 82 possibilities (ensemble members) from the European & American models consistently keep the hurricane well east of Florida. This is not our storm this time around thankfully. We will still see larger waves along the East Coast… pic.twitter.com/4xM1TT0LJR
— Matt Devitt (@MattDevittWINK) September 7, 2023
Let’s just hope Lee veers off into the sea so we can just admire the beauty of this monster, because other than it being completely terrifying and catastrophic if it does make landfall, it’s an absolutely gorgeous hurricane. (RELATED: Tropical Storm Margot Officially Forms In Atlantic, Expected To Become Hurricane)
Here’s another look — look at that eye, look at that wall!
#HurricaneLee is forecast to peak Friday morning with maximum sustained winds of 180 mph. If that happens, it would put Lee in an elite club, with 8 other storms reaching 180 mph. 5 Atlantic hurricanes on record have had stronger winds. The max: Allen in 1980 had 190 mph winds. pic.twitter.com/gxw1IpNKi0
— Jeff Berardelli (@WeatherProf) September 8, 2023
What a beaut! I look forward to covering and studying this bad boy even more!