Hurricane Lee downgraded to Category 3
Lee exploded to a Category 5 storm within 24 hours last week before slowing down and reorganizing over the weekend. Just behind Lee is Tropical Storm Margot, which is predicted to reach hurricane status by Monday afternoon.
Hurricane Lee is moving well north of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the northern Leeward Islands, though it still remains too early to determine whether the northeastern US coast and Canada could see any impacts, according to advisories from the National Hurricane Center on Sunday.
Life-threatening surf and rip conditions are expected along the East Coast, while dangerous swells generated by the storm are spreading to the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Bahamas, and Bermuda.
Lee’s historic intensification from an 80 mph Category 1 to a Category 5 with 160 mph winds last week makes it one the fastest-intensifying Atlantic storms on record. Warm waters are a potent fuel for hurricanes to gain strength, a phenomenon expected to accelerate amid a growing climate crisis.
We’re in the ‘peak’ of Atlantic hurricane season
Sunday’s climatological peak of the Atlantic hurricane season – with conditions ripe for tropical storms and hurricanes – saw considerable action, with a strengthening Category 3 hurricane and soon-to-be hurricane tracking closely together, followed by two brewing systems to their west.
The “peak” date typically sees ocean waters at their highest temperatures, peak intensity in the atmosphere to generate thunderstorms, and shearing winds that can suffocate storms declining to a minimum, which tropical waves that fuel storms in the summer continue well into September.
Alex Woodward11 September 2023 14:00
What happens when hurricanes ‘collide’?
Tropical Storm Margot is expected to reach hurricane status on Monday, raising the prospect of two potentially major hurricanes spinning in the Atlantic simultaneously and in similar paths.
That phenomenon, when two storms rotate around each other and spin in the same direction, is called the Fujiwhara effect. The National Weather Service describes it as “an intense dance around their common center” and potentially combine into one major storm.
The rare phenomenon occured with hurricanes Hilary and Irwin in the East Pacific in 2017.
If one hurricane is stronger than the other, the smaller one will orbit it and eventually come crashing into its vortex to be absorbed, according to the NHC.
“Two storms closer in strength can gravitate towards each other until they reach a common point and merge, or merely spin each other around for a while before shooting off on their own paths,” the center explains.
Stuti Mishra11 September 2023 13:00
Hurricane season, by the numbers
NOAA forecasts 12 to 17 total named storms this year, with five to nine of those storms turning into hurricanes, including up to four major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or higher.
The season, which officially began on 1 June and will end on 30 November, already has produced 14 storms, including four hurricanes – theree of which were Category 3 or higher.
Lee is the strongest yet among them.
Alex Woodward11 September 2023 12:00
Half of world’s population suffered under climate crisis-fuelled extreme heat this year, research says
Nearly half of the world’s population was exposed to at least 30 days of extreme heat driven by the climate crisis between June and August, according to recently published research from Climate Central.
More than 3.8 billion people across the world suffered extreme temperatures for over a month, while “nearly every living human” – around 98 per cent of the world – was exposed to extreme heat at least once between June and August 2023, the report found.
The longest duration of extreme temperatures, approximately three months, was experienced by at least 1.5 billion people who were exposed to unusually high heat on each day over the period of June to August, the study says.
The Independent’s Stuti Mishra reports:
Stuti Mishra11 September 2023 11:00
Atlantic to see two simultaneous hurricanes as Margot strengthens
Hurricane Lee is expected to continue to gain strength as it cruises across the Atlantic Ocean, and just behind it is Tropical Storm Margot, which forecasters predict will reach hurricane strength today.
Tropical Storm Margot became the 13th named storm after forming on Thursday evening, but it was far out in the Atlantic and posed no threat to land. It was last spotted about 1,185 miles (1,910 kilometres) west-northwest of the Cape Verde Islands late on Sunday night. Its winds stood at 65 mph (100 kph) and it was moving northward at 8 mph (13 kph).
It’s unclear what path they will take in the coming days, and whether they will pose a threat to the East Coast.
But they could get close enough for a phenomenon called the Fujiwhara effect, in which two storms rotate around each other and spin in the same direction. The National Weather Service describes it as “an intense dance around their common center.”
The phenomenon occured with hurricanes Hilary and Irwin in the East Pacific in 2017.
Stuti Mishra11 September 2023 10:00
Can Hurricane Lee become Category 5 again?
Lee is going through another phase of intensification over the warm Atlantic waters, nearing Category 4 strength now after it was downgraded to Category 2 on Saturday.
National Hurricane Center has said the storm could intensify further on Monday morning, which means it could once again become a Category 5 storm. Last week the storm went from Category 1 to Category 5 within 24 hours.
Stuti Mishra11 September 2023 09:00
Path of Hurricane Lee: Will it make landfall?
Hurricane Lee is projected to stay in open waters, according to the National Hurricane Center but its impact is being felt in the Caribbean with rainfall and large swells and the same could be experienced in the US East Coast.
Lee is expected to take a turn to the north by Wednesday. However, its path after that remained unclear.
Here is the projected path of the hurricane:
Stuti Mishra11 September 2023 08:04
Hurricane Lee 'growing larger' as US east coast braces for large swells
The centre of Hurricane Lee is growing in size, the National Hurricane Center has said in its latest advisory, after the storm once again intensified to Category 3 from Category 2 on Sunday night.
Lee has hurricane-force winds extending outward up to 75 miles (120 kilometres) from the centre and tropical storm-force winds extending outward up to 175 miles (280 kilometres).
The NHC also said that dangerous surf and rip currents were expected to hit most of the US East Coast starting on Sunday night and Monday morning, but that the hurricane's impact beyond that was still unclear.
"It is way too soon to know what level of impacts, if any, Lee might have along the US East Coast, Atlantic Canada, or Bermuda, especially since the hurricane is expected to slow down considerably over the southwestern Atlantic." the centre said.
Stuti Mishra11 September 2023 07:15
Hurricane Lee unleashes heavy swell on northern Caribbean as it restrengthens over open waters
Hurricane Lee barrelled over open waters late night just northeast of the Caribbean, unleashing heavy swell on several islands as it regained some strength and expanded in size.
Lee has again intensified to a Category 3 storm after reducing to Category 2 earlier on Saturday, but it is not forecast to make landfall and it is staying over open waters. However, its bands brought heavy rains and hazardous beach conditions.
The impacted regions include the Lesser Antilles, the British and US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Bahamas and Bermuda.
Late Sunday, it was centred about 310miles (500kilometres) north of the northern Leeward Islands. Its maximum sustained winds were clocked at 120mph (195kph) and it was moving northwest at 8mph (13kph).
“We had the perfection conditions for a hurricane: warm waters and hardly any wind shear,” said Lee Ingles, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in San Juan.
Stuti Mishra11 September 2023 06:32
‘Rapid intensification’ of storms likely to accelerate with warming waters
Hurricane Lee is in rare company. Only two recorded storms – Hurricane Wilma in 2005 and Hurricane Felix in 2007 – strengthened faster than Lee over a 24-hour period, as Lee developed from a Cat 1 to a Cat 5 last week before degrading into its current Cat 3 status.
The storm is predicted to continue to regain strength after slowing down over the weekend.
Brian McNoldy with the University of Miami told NBC News that the warm conditions in the Atlantic were ripe for the storm’s rapid intensification last week.
The “vertical wind shear was very low and the water temperature under it was very warm,” he said, adding that Lee “took full advantage of both.”
Last year, Hurricane Ian rapidly intensified over two separate periods before striking Florida. Hurricane Idalia recently strengthened from a Cat 1 to a Cat 4 within 24 hours.
“It’s a huge problem, and the past is not a good guide to what we should expect going forward,” Jeff Masters, a former hurricane scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told NBC.
Alex Woodward11 September 2023 06:00