(Reuters) – Hurricane Lee, a Category 2 storm, was “rapidly strengthening” as it churned through the Caribbean on Thursday, the U.S.-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported.
In Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has pre-deployed assets and is coordinating with local officials ahead of the storm, the Biden administration said.
The storm was moving at 105 mph (165 kph) by mid-day Thursday and could speed up to a “major hurricane” as a Category 5 storm within the next 36 hours, the NHC said.
However, the hurricane is likely to miss Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands as it moves northwest, the NHC’s estimated storm path showed.
“The potential for tropical storm conditions to occur in the islands is decreasing, but residents there should continue to monitor updates on Lee,” the NHC said.
Swells caused by the storm, which are likely to bring life-threatening surf and rip current conditions, are expected to reach parts of the Lesser Antilles on Friday, the NHC said, with swells hitting the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, the Bahamas and Bermuda this weekend.
Lee is expected to remain powerful through the next several days, the NHC added.
(Reporting by Kylie Madry; Additional reporting by Jeff Mason and Aurora Ellis)
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