Tropical Storm Lee approaches hurricane strength, expected to rapidly intensify to an 'extremely dangerous' hurricane

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Tropical Storm Lee is approaching hurricane strength and is expected to rapidly intensify to an “extremely dangerous” hurricane by this weekend, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Lee formed Tuesday evening. It’s located about 1265 miles east-southeast of the Northern Leeward Islands. The storm has maximum sustained winds of 65 mph and is moving at about 16 mph.

Lee is expected to become a hurricane sometime Wednesday. By the weekend, the NHC said the storm will likely be a major hurricane.

“The current forecast takes the system just north of the Caribbean Islands, but when the storm makes the turn to the north will determine if anywhere in the U.S. will feel impacts,” WFLA meteorologist Leigh Spann said.

The NHC said swells from Lee are expected to reach portions of the Lesser Antilles on Friday. The swells will likely cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

Lee is the twelfth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.

In August, the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration updated its forecast and warned that this year’s hurricane season would be above normal. Between 14 to 21 named storms are forecast. Of those, six to 11 could become hurricanes, with two to five of them possibly becoming major hurricanes.

In the Pacific, Tropical Storm Jova continued strengthening well off the southwest coast of Mexico, but posed no threat to land. Jova had 70 mph winds and was forecast to become a hurricane Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center. It was about 675 miles south of the southern tip of Baja California and moving west-northwest at 9 mph.

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