Will Hurricane Lee hit NC? What to know on Sunday about the slow-moving Cat 3 storm

Hurricane Lee is a powerful Category 3 storm that will slowly move across the Atlantic through next week. Forecasters say the storm is likely to make a turn to the north, away from the Southeastern U.S. coast, but it will be days before it does and even then, it will have some effect here.

Tropical Storm Margot is less of a threat but it will be a while before that storm veers north as well.

What’s Hurricane Lee doing?

After rocketing to Category 5 strength on Thursday, Hurricane Lee’s maximum sustained winds dropped from a Category 4 hurricane Friday to Category 3 on Saturday.

Hurricane Lee lost some strength over the weekend with maximum sustained winds of 110 p.m. on Sunday. Some gradual restrengthening is expected in the coming days, according to the National Hurricane Center.

In its Saturday morning update, the National Hurricane Center said, “Lee is expected to pass well to the north of the northern Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico into early next week.” But swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

It reiterated what it had said Friday afternoon, that “it is way too soon to know what level of impacts, if any, Lee might have along the U.S. East Coast, Atlantic Canada, or Bermuda late next week, particularly since the hurricane is expected to slow down considerably over the southwestern Atlantic.

“Regardless, dangerous surf and rip currents are expected along most of the U.S. East Coast later (Sunday) and worsen through this week.”

Surf forecasts for North Carolina show wave action will increase as a result of the storm next week even if it stays offshore. Bigger, more powerful waves increase the likelihood of beach erosion and the risk of dangerous rip currents. Though the ocean is still invitingly warm — 85 ° off Wrightsville Beach on Sunday— swimmers should use caution.

When will Hurricane Lee veer north?

Most computer models show Hurricane Lee veering toward the north, far offshore of the Southeastern coast. But they disagree on when and how sharply the storm will turn. The slowing of the storm’s forward motion makes that timing more difficult to predict, forecasters say.

Will Tropical Storm Margot be an issue?

Tropical Storm Margot developed Thursday night and had maximum sustained winds of around 50 mph Sunday.

That storm should develop into a hurricane over the next few days, the National Hurricane Center said. The storm is still in the eastern Atlantic, moving to the west-northwest.

Current forecasts show Margot tracking more to the north across the Atlantic in a couple of days, keeping it away from the Southeastern U.S. coast.

Reporter Anna Johnson contributed to this report.