Tropical Storm Lee, which formed in the Atlantic Ocean on Tuesday, is predicted to intensify into an "extremely dangerous" hurricane by the end of the week, potentially impacting cruise lines headed toward the Caribbean. Currently located approximately 1,315 miles east of the Lesser Antilles, the storm has maximum sustained winds of 45 mph and is moving west-northwest at 16 mph.
Meteorologists from Fox Weather have issued a warning that Lee will rapidly strengthen into a major hurricane, and it is expected to be a very strong storm. Although Lee is not expected to make landfall, forecasters are cautioning residents of the Leeward Islands to be on alert as the storm approaches the area. The outer bands of the storm may bring strong gusts, heavy rain, dangerous surf, and extremely large waves, posing risks to the islands.
Cruise lines, in particular, are closely monitoring the situation due to the potential impact of the strong and expansive hurricane. Cody Braud, a meteorologist from Fox Weather, emphasized the importance of avoiding a system as powerful as Lee, which is projected to become a very large storm. The path of Lee is expected to hug the Caribbean islands and remain in open waters, but its proximity to popular cruise destinations raises concerns for the industry.
While Lee is forecasted to slow down before reaching the United States, meteorologists are advising East Coasters to remain vigilant in case of any major developments. Braud emphasized that hurricanes are unpredictable, and any shifts in Lee's path, particularly if it moves further west or south, could have significant impacts down the line.
The formation of Tropical Storm Lee follows closely on the heels of Hurricane Idalia, which recently devastated Haiti and parts of the Florida Panhandle. With winds reaching 125 mph and a storm surge causing widespread power outages and extensive damage, Idalia was the largest hurricane to hit Florida's Big Bend area in over a century. It left at least 500,000 residents without power and caused a trail of destruction over 100 miles wide, with Cedar Key being one of the hardest-hit communities.
The National Hurricane Center has emphasized the need for ongoing monitoring and preparedness as Tropical Storm Lee continues to develop. With the potential for Lee to become an extremely dangerous hurricane, it is crucial for individuals and communities to stay informed and take necessary precautions to ensure safety.