Hurricane Lee’s projected path and timeline: Meteorologists forecast when and where it will hit


Tracking Hurricane Lee


Lee strengthened from a tropical storm into a hurricane Wednesday and is forecast to become an “extremely dangerous major hurricane” by Friday, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center say.

Here’s what to know about the growing storm.

When did Lee become a hurricane?

The National Hurricane Center said in an update shared at 5 p.m. EDT on Wednesday that Tropical Storm Lee had strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane. 

Lee is expected to become a “major hurricane” by Friday, the NHC said, as it intensifies rapidly. It may become a Category 4 hurricane — a potentially “catastrophic” storm with sustained wind speeds of 130-156 mph — as it travels over very warm water.

Tropical Storm Lee over the Atlantic on Sept. 6, 2023.
Satellite image of Lee over the Atlantic on Sept. 6, 2023.

NOAA GOES Image Viewer

Where is Hurricane Lee heading?

Hurricane Lee is expected to pass near the northern Leeward Islands and Puerto Rico this weekend. The Leewards are a group of islands where the Caribbean Sea meets the western Atlantic Ocean.

Large ocean swells are expected to reach the Lesser Antilles by Friday and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Bermuda and Hispaniola by the weekend, the hurricane center said.

Hurricane Lee projected path
Hurricane Lee’s projected path. Sept. 6, 2023. 

NOAA/National Weather Service

Just before 5 a.m. EDT on Thursday, Lee was traveling west-northwest at 13 mph over the southern Atlantic Ocean, with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph. Its center was about 965 miles east of the northern Leeward Islands. The Leewards include the Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Saint Martin and Saint Kitts.     

There are no coastal warnings or watches in effect at this time, the hurricane center said, but “interests in the Leeward Islands should monitor the progress of Lee.” 

“The most probable scenario is that Lee will track far enough north to bring just a brush of gusty winds and showers to the northern Leeward Islands,” The Weather Channel reported. But it adds, “we can’t fully rule out a more southern track that takes Lee closer or directly through the islands with more serious impacts.”

The longer range forecast is uncertain, but meteorologists will be watching to see if Lee starts steering towards the U.S. mainland or remains on a path over open ocean.

Is Hurricane Lee going to hit Florida?

Hurricane Lee is not forecast to impact the United States at this time, CBS Miami reported. CBS Miami chief meteorologist and hurricane specialist Ivan Cabrera Lee said the storm system is expected to turn to the north and away from the U.S. coast, but weather experts will continue to monitor its progress and track it closely.

Florida is currently recovering from Hurricane Idalia, which made landfall along the Gulf Coast last Wednesday and left a trail of damage across the Big Bend region — the area where the Florida peninsula meets the panhandle. The storm caused severe flooding in Florida and other states including Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, before moving out to sea. Several deaths have been attributed to the storm, and the financial toll of the hurricane could reach $20 billion, CBS News previously reported

Coastal Florida towns begin major cleanup after Hurricane Idalia


Hurricane Lee spaghetti models

Spaghetti weather models, or spaghetti plots, are computer models showing the possible paths a storm may take as it develops. These models don’t predict the impact or when a storm may hit, according to the Weather Channel, but focus on showing which areas might potentially be at risk. 

Spaghetti models for Hurricane Lee mostly show the storm traveling over the ocean. Some paths might take the storm close to the Leeward Islands. A recent spaghetti model for Lee created at 6 a.m. ET Wednesday shows most projected paths curving northward and remaining out over the open Atlantic, but a few veer more to the west for a potential impact in the islands or along the U.S. Mid-Atlantic or New England coast next week.

CBS New York reports the forecast models have been going back and forth on the track of the storm — on Sunday night they were suggesting a landfall in the Mid-Atlantic region, then on Monday, going out to sea. As of Wednesday, the track is much closer to the East Coast. The ECMWF, or European model, has Lee staying out to sea, and not making a direct landfall, but coming very close to the U.S. mainland. Meanwhile, the GFS, or American model, has Lee scraping Cape Cod, and then heading into the Canadian Maritimes.

Meteorologists expect to get a clearer picture of the storm’s likely path as it continues to develop in the coming days.

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