Tropical Storm Lee expected to become third major hurricane of season

Meteorologists are monitoring a Tropical Storm far to the island’s south, which is expected to become the third major hurricane of the season.

As of yesterday afternoon the system, Tropical Storm Lee, was still almost 2,000 miles southeast of Bermuda and moving west-northwest at about 16mph.

The depression had maximum sustained winds of 45mph with tropical-storm force winds recorded up to 70 miles from the centre.

However, forecasts suggest the depression will strengthen further and become Hurricane Lee by tomorrow morning.

The system is expected to reach Category 4 strength by this weekend with winds of almost 140mph.

If it does, the storm would be the third major hurricane of the season after Hurricane Franklin and Hurricane Idalia, both of which passed the island in the past two weeks.

The US National Hurricane Centre said yesterday: “Lee is forecast to be a hurricane within a couple of days and will likely become a major hurricane by Friday.”

The Bermuda Weather Service said last night that Tropical Storm Lee was not considered a threat to the island as the storm’s closest point of approach in the next three days was still more than 1,000 miles to Bermuda’s south-southeast.

However, the BWS warned the system could get closer to the island after that time.

The BWS said: “The long-range forecast brings Lee near the Leeward Islands this weekend as a major hurricane.

“Lee is then forecast to continue on its general track, which will bring it to the south of Bermuda. It is too early by several days to know what impacts we may have, but please continue to monitor its progress.”

Early forecasts have suggested the storm could take a northern turn next week before reaching the US, which would bring its path closer to the island.

Bermuda yesterday marked 20 years since it was rocked by Hurricane Fabian, the most devastating storm to strike the island in decades.

Hurricane Fabian made a direct hit on Bermuda on the morning of September 5, 2003, as a Category 3 Hurricane with gusts peaking at 164mph.

The storm was estimated to have caused more than $300 million in damages, tearing roofs off homes across the island and leaving 25,000 homes without power.

Even more tragically, the hurricane was the first to cause death on the island since 1926.

Manuel Pacheco, Gladys Saunders, Pc Stephen Symons and Pc Nicole O’Connor lost their lives when the storm destroyed a large section of the Causeway.

Mr Pacheco, 23, was on his way home after securing his boat in St David’s when his car stalled on the Causeway.

Ms Saunders, a 48-year-old police station duty officer, was being given a ride across the Causeway by Mr Symons and Ms O’Connor.

Despite attempts to rescue the four, both of their vehicles were swept off the Causeway.

A memorial was subsequently erected on the eastern side of the Causeway.

The 2023 hurricane season has been forecast to be busier than usual as warmer than normal water temperatures offset El Niño, a weather phenomenon known to limit hurricane development in the Atlantic.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimated that the season could include 14 to 21 named storms, of which between six and 11 could reach hurricane strength.

Of those storms, it is estimated two to five could become major hurricanes reaching at least Category 3 strength with winds of 111mph or greater.

So far this year, the Atlantic has recorded 12 named storms including three hurricanes, two of which became major hurricanes.

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