Tropical Storm Lee formed in the Atlantic Ocean on Tuesday and is expected to become a major hurricane by the end of the week, potentially threatening the Leeward Islands as early as this weekend, though the storm is expected to stay east of the U.S. and avoid more damage just one week after Hurricane Idalia.
Tropical Depression 13 formed Tuesday morning in the central Atlantic, before being upgraded to Tropical Storm Lee, the National Hurricane Center said, and is forecast to be a hurricane within a couple of days, likely reaching Category 3 intensity by Friday.
Tropical Storm Lee has maximum sustained winds of 45 mph with some higher gusts, the National Hurricane Center said in its 5 p.m. Tuesday update.
While it’s expected the storm will stay east of the U.S., forecasters with AccuWeather say any potential impacts rely largely on the overall steering pattern of next week’s winds and are advising people along the East Coast to monitor the path of the storm.
Even if the storm doesn’t make landfall stateside, AccuWeather experts are warning of “some stronger surf and dangerous rip currents” along the Eastern Seaboard.
News of Tropical Storm Lee comes one week after Hurricane Idalia hit the Florida Big Bend, taking at least two lives. The storm made landfall as a Category 3 major hurricane, though it was downgraded to a tropical storm before tearing through Georgia and South Carolina. The storm caused damage, but not as much as some feared: The administrator of Pasco County, Florida, said on Wednesday that between 4,000 and 6,000 homes were damaged with up to 5 feet of floodwater, and officials in Manatee County initially estimated there was at least $2 million of damage. That said, it was the most destructive hurricane this year, with Moody’s Analytics estimating it caused up to $20 billion in damage across the state.
What To Watch For
What happens during “peak” hurricane season. Most tropical activity in the Atlantic takes place between mid-August and mid-October in the Atlantic Ocean, according to AccuWeather, with the historical peak of hurricane season occurring September 10.