Weather: Hurricane Lee has very quickly powered to Category 5 at 11 pm with wind speed of 160mph. The winds is expected to reach 180 mph within 12 hours. Aircraft data seems very clear on first eye penetration with 145kt or 165mph readings and pressure 930s mb.
For context, at 5am the NHC estimated winds at 80mph using satellite data which was pretty reasonable and about 14 hours later it has more than doubled. 85mph increase in 14 hours.
The pressure drop is also staggering. Considered explosive deepening. Lee does not seem to be done yet. The maximum wind speed is highly dependent on sea surface temp and the depth of warm water.
Track keeps core of damaging winds well north of Leewards and Virgin Islands (% probability of storm force winds is 10-20% there) but large swells, rip currents and surf expected.
Lee only recently entered 30 to 30.5C water with increasing depth of warm water. Shear will remain low, humidity fairly high, so nothing to stop it going for a while but internal eyewall changes.
Hurricane Lee has really gone to town today. It is rapidly strengthening since this morning, with strong thunderstorms(dark colors) wrapping around and forming a large eye this morning then solidifying further since then.
At 11am the NHC increased the wind speed to 105mph(from 80mph at 5am) and forecast it to be 130mph by 8pm… but by the way it’s looking on satellite it does look like it may be nearing that already! Aircraft will fly into it tonight to get direct data.
The NHC’s best center track has continued to stay well northeast of the Leewards and there is higher confidence now that the core of Lee will stay north but there remains a 1 in 4 chance that storm force winds could affect the north Leewards as Lee is expected to grow in size by the time it is passing the islands; additionally it is expected to slow down. Large waves and swells will be affecting the islands.
Rainbands on the outside of Lee may form far away that affect some islands, but details will be clearer Fri to wknd. For now a weak trough is being pushed into the Leewards and winds will be slow and varying directions thru the weekend. This will make hot conditions, and possible isolated sea breeze showers.