Lee to bring tropical storm winds by Thursday afternoon
Bermuda has been placed under tropical storm watch, the Bermuda Weather Service has confirmed.
This was expected to be upgraded to a tropical storm warning by midnight.
Hurricane Lee is expected to pass the island as a Category 1 storm tomorrow night.
The weather service said: “Winds and clouds continue to increase, though conditions remain mainly dry ahead of Hurricane Lee`s westerly passage.
“Dangerous surf and rip currents will increase mainly along our south shores through Thursday. Winds, gusts and showers rapidly increase Thursday, peaking late Thursday night as Lee passes.
“Conditions improve on Friday as winds and gusts rapidly decrease throughout the day.”
The Government said yesterday that the onset of tropical storm-force winds in the marine area is expected at about 10am tomorrow. On land, the onset of tropical storm-force winds is expected at about noon tomorrow.
It said the Emergency Measures Organisation will meet tomorrow to assess Lee’s potential impact and the public will be notified of any decisions. It remains unclear whether government services will be affected.
Members of the community have been urged to take the hurricane seriously and ensure all preparations are in place.
The storm was 545 miles south of the island at 6pm yesterday and hazardous seas are already affecting the South Shore.
Tomorrow morning, winds are expected to begin east-southeasterly at 23mph to 35mph and increase to 35mph to 46mph by noon.
Winds further increase from the southeast in the evening to 40mph to 52mph
“Hurricane Lee is expected to be a weak Category 2 or strong Category 1 hurricane as it passes Bermuda overnight on Thursday,” the BWS said.
“Lee is a very large hurricane, so while the centre is expected to remain roughly 150nm to our west, we will be experiencing tropical storm-force conditions for about 24 hours, give or take a few hours …
“Lee’s closest point of approach remains late Thursday night. Once the closest point of approach has passed, however, we will still remain under tropical storm-force conditions. Thursday is expected to have occasional showers, some heavier, with a chance of thunderstorms as Lee’s rain bands pass through the area …
“The public are urged to begin making preparations for Lee as necessary as winds increase strong by Wednesday which may hinder some preparations.”
As of 6pm, the storm’s closest point of approach within the next three days was forecast to be about 174 miles west of Bermuda at 2am on Friday.
Southeasterly swells continue to build rough to very rough, with dangerous surf and rip currents continuing, especially along the South Shore.
A small-craft warning is in effect from today through tomorrow night.
A hurricane watch was deemed “unlikely”, however.
As of 5pm, the US National Hurricane Centre said the storm boasted maximum sustained winds of almost 115mph with higher gusts.
“The hurricane is expected to gradually weaken over the next few days while it moves over cooler waters into a higher-shear environment,” the NHC said.
“Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 90 miles from the centre and tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 205 miles.
“Dangerous surf and life-threatening rip currents will affect portions of the northern Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, the Turks & Caicos Islands, the Bahamas, Bermuda and most of the US East Coast through much of the week.
“There is an increasing risk of strong winds, rainfall, and high surf impacts to Bermuda later this week, and a tropical storm watch remains in effect for the island.“
Lee was curving into a northerly course as a Category 3 storm yesterday and the system’s size means a lengthy spell of tropical storm-force winds.
The BWS forecast winds easing to 23mph to 35mph on Friday afternoon, dropping significantly by the evening.
However, seas will remain “very hazardous” and remain rough through Saturday.