Hurricane Lee weakens slightly to category four storm

Hurricane Lee has weakened slightly to a category four storm, but will remain powerful through early next week as it churns its way through the Atlantic.

It is carrying wind speeds near 155mph (250 km/h), and may bring “dangerous beach conditions” to the west Atlantic, the United States (US) National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said.

The storm is not projected to make landfall anywhere on its current path.

But its impact may be felt on the shores of some Caribbean islands.

Lee is the 12th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June to November.

It rapidly intensified from a category one within the span of an hour on Thursday. At one point, Lee hit category five, packing wind speeds of up to 160mph (260km/h).

In its latest update, the NHC said that the hurricane is expected to pass “well north” of the Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico over the weekend and early next week.

While Hurricane Lee is currently not projected to make landfall anywhere, swells generated by the storm are expected to reach parts of the Caribbean – including the British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the Turks and Caicos – beginning on Friday and through the weekend.

“These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions,” the update added.

Similar conditions are expected to begin on the east coast of the US on Sunday, the NHC said on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, that it is “too early to know what level of impacts” the hurricane will have on the US, Atlantic Canada or Bermuda yet.

On Friday afternoon, Lee was located about 565 miles (910km) east of the northern Leeward Islands. (BBC)

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