Discussion: At 5AM EDT, Category-5 Major Hurricane Lee was located about 630 miles east of the Northern Leeward Islands. Lee is moving west-northwest at 14 mph with top wind 165 mph and surface pressure 926 MB.
Lee continues to move west-northwest on the south side of the “Bermuda High” which is forecast to weaken on the weekend causing Lee to slow down.
The environment remains favorable for additional intensification over the next 24-36 hours.
The NOAA/NHC 5-day forecast track takes Lee to 390 miles north of Puerto Rico by early next Wednesday. During this time, Lee moves across warmer than normal waters enabling Lee to maintain major hurricane status. NOAA/NHC weakens Lee to a category 4 major hurricane early next week although given the warm water, the weakening could be delayed.
Forecast models are steadily agreeable on a north turn prior to moving west of 70W longitude. The risk of impacts on the U.S. East Coast are reduced by the north turn prior to crossing 70W.
Note that the water surface is cooler than normal approaching the Gulf Stream in the western North Atlantic which should cause Lee to weaken to a category-3 major hurricane while moving northward to the east of the Mid-Atlantic region later next week.
Lee should accelerate north-to-northeastward into next weekend targeting Nova Scotia for landfall. The landfall target for early next weekend is as far west as New England or as far east as missing Southeast Canada and heading out to sea.
Despite the offshore track, the U.S. East Coast will receive dangerous coastal conditions including enhanced wind, high seas, and dangerous undertow. The coastal Northeast will receive the most dangerous coastal conditions.
Lee will become a larger storm slowing down over the weekend and larger again once recurving north to north-to-northeast later next week.
Meanwhile, complicating the track of Lee next week is the influence on steering currents by emerging Margot, a hurricane in the central subtropical North Atlantic by early next week.