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

Updated September 11, 2023 at 5:35 AM 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 dangerous surf conditions have begun affecting stretches of the southeastern U.S. coastline.

At an early Monday advisory, the NHC said Lee was packing maximum sustained winds of close to 120 mph with higher gusts. Swells generated by Lee have affected portions of the Lesser Antilles, the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Bahamas and Bermuda. Those swells could cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions. Dangerous surf and rip currents are forecast to spread northward along much of the U.S. East Coast during the next couple of days.

The dangerous surf conditions 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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