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Hurricane Lee Downgraded to Category 4 As It Barrels Through Atlantic Ocean

Lee was elevated to category 5 status early Friday morning, before being downgraded hours later. Dangerous surf and rip currents are expected along most of the U.S. East Coast beginning Sunday.

MIAMI, FLORIDA — Hurricane Lee was downgraded from a Category 5 to a Category 4 hurricane on Friday as it continues to barrel northwest through the Atlantic Ocean.

According to the National Hurricane Center’s 11 am advisory, Hurricane Lee is expected to pass well to the north of the northern Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico over the weekend and into early next week.

The storm currently has maximum sustained winds near 155 mph with higher gusts. The advisory noted that some fluctuations in intensity are expected over the next few days, but Lee is expected to remain a powerful hurricane through early next week.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles (55 km) from the center and tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles.

Currently, Floridians are not directly in the projected path, as models have it taking a sharp turn and impacting northeastern states as it collides with a cold front headed southeast across the U.S.

However, swells generated by Lee from the storm are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions. Dangerous surf and rip currents are expected to begin along most of the U.S. East Coast beginning Sunday.  

Those swells are projected to reach portions of the Lesser Antilles later today, and reach the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Bahamas, and Bermuda this weekend.