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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Tropical Storm Lee expected to develop into major hurricane

By The Star Staff

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami reported Wednesday that Tropical Storm Lee was close to reaching hurricane strength and could rapidly intensify into an extremely dangerous major hurricane by Saturday.

According to the NHC, at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Lee was located some 1,200 miles (1,930 kilometers) east of the northern Leeward Islands, with maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour (mph), or 110 kilometers per hour.

Lee was moving west-northwest at a speed of 14 mph (about 22 kilometers per hour), a trajectory that was expected to continue in the coming days with a slight reduction in speed.

The trajectory takes the storm well north of Puerto Rico.

Lee’s intensity was expected to steadily increase to hurricane strength late Wednesday, with the storm becoming a major hurricane within a couple of days.

Lee had tropical storm-force winds extending up to 80 miles, or 130 kilometers, from the center.

The NHC has stressed that interests in the Northern Leeward Islands should monitor the progress of this system.

“Storm surges generated by Lee are expected to reach parts of the Lesser Antilles on Friday, likely causing dangerous surf conditions and deadly rip currents,” the NHC warned.

The captain of the Coast Guard of the Port of San Juan, meanwhile, established the WHISKEY Condition on Wednesday in all ports in Puerto Rico and the U.S.Virgin Islands due to the approach of Tropical Storm Lee.

During the WHISKEY Condition, port facilities remain open to all commercial traffic and all transfer operations may continue as long as the WHISKEY is in effect. Pleasure boats must seek a safe port. In addition, maritime and port facilities are reminded to review and update their severe weather response plans and make any additional preparations necessary to adequately prepare for a potential impact to the area.

In this phase, sailors are warned that there are no safe havens at these facilities, and ports are safest when the inventory of ships is minimal. Vessels wishing to remain in port must seek approval from the port master before establishing the X-Ray Condition, the date of which is yet to be determined.

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