by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN) – The Leeward Islands and the British Virgin Islands have been issued a tropical cyclone alert concerning Hurricane Lee.
A tropical cyclone alert means that a tropical cyclone is in the area and has the potential to become a major hurricane within the next 24 – 48 hours.
According to a statement from the St. Kitts Meteorological Services, Hurricane Lee is expected to strengthen rapidly.
Residents are advised to monitor the progress of the storm closely.
Forecaster Orvin Paige from the Antigua and Barbuda Meteorological Services said no watches or warnings are necessary at this time.
At 5 a.m. local time (September 7), the centre of Hurricane Lee was located near latitude 16.1 north and 48.6 west or about 1002 miles east of St. Kitts and Nevis and about 1067 miles east south-east of the British Virgin Islands.
Lee is moving towards the west north-west near 14 mph, expected to continue through Friday.
Maximum sustained winds remain near 80 mph (130 km/h) with higher gusts.
Rapid intensification is expected to begin late Thursday, September 7, and Lee is forecast to become a major hurricane (a major Category 3 storm or stronger) by early Friday (September 8).
Hurricane-force winds extend up to 15 miles from the centre, and tropical storm winds extend outward up to 90 miles.
The estimated minimum central pressure is 989 millibars (mb) or 29.21 inches.
Hurricane Lee is expected to pass to the north of the Leewards Late Friday and Saturday as a major hurricane; experts predict Lee will reach Category 5.
Large swells are likely to affect coastal areas beginning on Friday.
Expected winds and rainfall for St. Kitts and Nevis and the rest of the Leewards depend on the proximity of Lee’s eventual path.
Lee would be the fourth system to reach Hurricane status during the 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season, following Don, Franklin and Idalia. As the weekend begins, Lee is forecast to become the season’s third Category 3 or stronger hurricane.
Sunday, September 10, would be considered the peak of the 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season, where the basin has been the busiest on average.
According to a research scientist at Colorado State University, the 2023 Atlantic season is tracking above average because of the number of named storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes.