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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Officials warn of dangerous surf conditions with passage of Hurricane Lee


Bureau for Emergency Management and Disaster Administration Commissioner Nino Correa Filomeno

By John McPhaul

jpmcphaul@gmail.com


Bureau for Emergency Management and Disaster Administration Commissioner Nino Correa Filomeno said Thursday that the National Weather Service (NWS) forecasts that sea conditions in the north and east of the island will be dangerous in the coming days with the passage of Hurricane Lee, so he urges people not to visit the beaches until the bad weather passes.


“Thank God, Hurricane Lee will not have a direct impact, but it will pass north of our region and this will greatly affect sea conditions,” Correa Filomeno said in a written statement. “We could also see episodes of temporary rains, so we have to be attentive to the announcements of the NWS.”


Ernesto Morales, the NWS warning coordinator, said “sea conditions will deteriorate rapidly between Saturday and Sunday, and will remain dangerous for the rest of next week.”


“In the sea, especially in the northern and eastern area, we will see waves between 10 and 15 feet, so we don’t want anyone on the beaches,” Morales added. “As for rainfall, there is a high uncertainty but, with the experience associated with systems like these, we could receive between one and two inches due to the cloudiness associated with the outer bands of the atmospheric system. Sunday is when we will see more cloudiness in our area.”


The storm is forecast to pass closest to Puerto Rico around 8 a.m. Monday and be due north of the island at around 8 a.m. Tuesday.


Correa Filomeno noted that “we are at the peak of the season, and any tropical system that has development potential is of interest to Puerto Rico.”


“The call to our people is to be aware of the bulletins of the National Weather Service, the government authorities and to be prepared,” he said.


Public Safety (DSP) Secretary Alexis Torres stressed that the security component has its emergency plan ready to activate when necessary, and is in constant communication with island mayors.


Lee developed into a hurricane late Wednesday and as of 11 a.m. Thursday was about 870 miles east of the Leeward Islands, in the northeastern Caribbean, and moving west-northwest at 15 miles per hour (mph). Its maximum sustained winds of 105 mph made it a Category 2 hurricane.


Besides Puerto Rico, dangerous surf conditions generated by the storm will likely affect the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Hispaniola, the Bahamas and Bermuda over the weekend, according to the National Hurricane Center.


Meteorologists are fairly confident that Lee will stay north of the Caribbean but give it only about a 25% chance of bringing tropical storm-force winds (39 mph or higher) in the northernmost Leeward Islands, including the Virgin Islands, according to The New York Times.


Lee strengthened from a Category 1 storm to a Category 2 over the course of a few hours Thursday and was expected to become a Category 3, with winds of at least 111 mph, later in the day.


Rapid intensification and strengthening should continue into the weekend, when Lee will likely reach its peak intensity. As the storm strengthens, its wind field will also expand, stretching how far hurricane-force winds extend from the center.


There is some chance the storm will hit the East Coast of the United States, but as of Thursday morning it was not the likely outcome. It might also hit Canada or stay farther east and move across Bermuda.

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