Tropical Storm Lee, still far away from the Caribbean in the Atlantic Ocean, strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane Wednesday and is forecast to become a major hurricane by the end of the week, officials said.
The storm is expected to cause swells in the Lesser Antilles on Friday before reaching the British and U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Saturday, according to the National Hurricane Center. There are no coastal watches or warnings in effect.
Lee went from a tropical depression into a tropical storm on Tuesday. The storm is forecast to strengthen further, and quickly, according to the hurricane center.
It is expected to become a major hurricane by Friday, the hurricane center said. At 11 p.m. Wednesday it had sustained winds of 80 mph, making it a Category 1 storm, the agency said.
It is expected to rapidly intensify, starting Thursday, an 11 p.m. bulletin says.
The British and U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, as well as Hispaniola, Bermuda and the Bahamas, will get swells from the storm this weekend — with life-threatening rip currents likely, forecasters said.
A "major hurricane" is a storm of Category 3 or greater on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.