Air Force films stunning clip INSIDE Hurricane Lee, as frightening graphic shows how it quickly became Cat-5, 165MPH storm that could smash east coast
- Stunning footage revealed the thunderous eye of Hurricane Lee
- The twister escalated from a Category 1 to Category 5 overnight on Thursday
Stunning footage has revealed the thunderous eye of Hurricane Lee as it barrels toward the eastern seaboard – threatening to leave a trail of chaos in its wake after escalating from a Category 1 to Category 5 hurricane overnight.
The Air Force’s ‘Hurricane Hunters’, a weather reconnaissance squadron, showed relentless lightning strikes lighting up the twister in a breathtaking social media post on Friday.
Hurricane Lee has swirled over the Atlantic Ocean for days as it picks up steam, but forecasters have struggled to nail down its path and it is not expected to make landfall until late next week.
Hurricane Lee was registered as a Category 1 hurricane on Wednesday after it formed near the Leeward Islands in The Caribbean.
Forecasters were quick to warn that it had devastating potential, and shocking satellite projections captured it surging in speed and potency by Thursday as it reached over 160mph.
Earlier in the day, the twister registered speeds of around 80mph. After the storm spiraled over the Atlantic, waves reached upwards of 55 feet near the center, the National Hurricane Center found.
One of the reasons for the escalation has is unseasonably warm waters over the Atlantic ocean, which have registered near 86 degrees Fahrenheit in its path, which meteorologists said was more akin to temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico than the Atlantic.
As of Friday evening, Lee remained far off the US coastline and was roughly 440 miles east of the Leeward Islands, moving northwest at a rate of 13mph, according to the New York Times.
While it spirals far to the southeast of its potential landfall, meteorologist and hurricane expert Michael Lowry warned that it has properties that could result in significant damage.
Although its sheer proximity to any land mass has mitigated any destruction thus far, the East Coast of the United States could begin seeing dangerous surf conditions as early as Sunday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
‘Some fluctuations in intensity are likely over the next few days, however Lee is expected to remain a powerful major hurricane through early next week,’ the NHC said Friday.
Meteorologists have seemingly gone back and forth over whether the hurricane will slam into the East Coast or potentially turn. On Wednesday, the NHC warned: ‘Most of the intensity models are very aggressive, bringing Lee to major hurricane status by the weekend.’
In a forecast discussion on Friday, the center flip-flopped on this prediction, admitting that ‘it is way too soon to know what level of impacts, if any, Lee might have along the US East Coast, Atlantic Canada, or Bermuda late next week’.
The forecaster added that this may come as ‘the hurricane is expected to slow down considerably over the southwestern Atlantic.’
Spaghetti models of Hurricane Lee’s path – maps which show computer simulations of where the center of the storm could be in several days time, given a set of variables – show Lee turning northeast and heading up the East Coast.
Similarly comforting models have been tragically wrong in the past, however. In 2017, meteorologists predicted Hurricane Irma would turn towards the ocean, before it battered Florida’s Gulf Coast and led to at least 92 deaths.
The National Hurricane Center said on Friday that the storm was ‘incredibly powerful’, and had escalated far beyond the strength it initially appeared to hold.
While some areas in the storm’s potential path showed no signs of the wet and wild weather – with Washington DC enjoying blistering weather Friday evening – currents off the hurricane were cited for fueling storms striking over the weekend.
Over 200 flights were cancelled out of JFK, Newark and LaGuardia airports, according to FlightAware, on Friday as thunderstorms rolled in.
As the thunderstorms struck, residents took to social media to share images of ominous clouds filling the skies of New York in a sign of what is forecast to come.
Reports indicate trees and power lines have been downed in New Jersey, and a severe thunderstorm watch was issued for almost the entire tri-state area until 11pm Friday.
Flash flood warning have also been issued for large swathes of the Hudson Valley following a period of dry and hot conditions.
Much of Massachusetts also remains under a severe thunderstorm watch, covering Middlesex, Essex, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire counties.
In Hoopsick Falls, New York, the town’s mayor urged residents to remain indoors as a powerful thunderstorm struck the community of 3,000 people on Thursday.
Fallen trees and powerlines were also reported in the area, as crews worked through the day to clear roads after they were blocked by debris.
Storm damage was also seen in Boxborough, Massachusetts – around 40 miles from Boston – where multiple powerlines and tree limbs were torn down by the high winds.