Eye on the Tropics

Lee strengthens into a hurricane; expected to be the largest storm of the season

ORLANDO, Fla. — Update:

Lee strengthened into a hurricane Wednesday afternoon.

It is forecast to rapidly intensify further into an extremely dangerous major hurricane by early Saturday.

The storm’s track is north of the Puerto Rico and the Leeward Islands, and then it is expected to curve east of Florida.



Lee is the fourth hurricane of the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season and will likely be the largest, chief meteorologist Tom Terry said.

He said he expects the hurricane to wobble between categories 4 and 5.

Watch live updates on Channel 9 Eyewitness News.

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Tropical Storm Lee is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane Wednesday.

By the weekend, Lee is forecast to become a “massive” category 4 storm.

The National Hurricane Center said Lee is forecast to become a major Category 4 hurricane by early Saturday.

The agency said swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip currents across portions of the Lesser Antilles later this week.

“Down the road, Lee is expected to track north of the northern Leeward Islands as a major hurricane by the weekend,” certified meteorologist George Waldenberger said. “As this happens, we’ll monitor wave heights and rip currents in the Caribbean islands and how close the tropical storm-force winds will get to the northeast islands.”

Read: Hundreds rescued, 2 killed in drownings at Volusia County beaches over Labor Day weekend

Certified meteorologist Brian Shields said the storm’s current track takes it north of Puerto Rico by this weekend.

It is then projected to curve to the north toward Bermuda.

“Unless something changes, it is not a threat to Florida,” Shields said.

With Lee to the east of Central Florida next week, we’ll see larger waves and an increased rip current threat at local beaches, Shields said.

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Jason Kelly

Jason Kelly, WFTV.com

Jason Kelly joined WFTV in 2014.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.