Hurricane Lee rapidly intensified into the first Category 5 storm of the Atlantic season late Thursday as it approached the northeast Caribbean.
Lee is not expected to make landfall but its powerful effects will be felt on some islands, including the Lesser Antilles which will see 10- to 15-foot waves Friday, according to forecasters.
The major storm barreled through open ocean about 705 miles east of the northern Leeward Island with winds of up to 160 miles per hour as it moved west-northwest.
The US Federal Emergency Management Agency has deployed teams to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands in preparation for the hurricane, the White House said.
Massive, life-threatening waves are expected to slam the coasts of Puerto Rico, the US and British Virgin Islands, Hispaniola, the Bahamas and Bermuda this weekend, according to the National Hurricane Center.
“Lee continues to strengthen at an exceptional rate,” the center said.
Dangerous surf and rip currents will impact much of the East Coast of the US starting Sunday — and Lee will likely remain a major hurricane into the next week.
Lee is the 12th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season and the first to reach Category 5.
A 13th storm was named Thursday evening when Tropical Storm Margot formed nearly 300 miles off of the Cabo Verde Islands. It is expected to increase in intensity — becoming a hurricane over the weekend and is not expected to make landfall.
With Post wires