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Hurricane Lee now a Category 4: Projected path, maps and tracker

Hurricane Lee is churning over the Atlantic Ocean as a powerful Category 4 hurricane with winds of 150 mph, just below the strength of a Category 5, which begins at 157 mph winds.

Lee had strengthened on Thursday from a Category 2 hurricane to a Category 4, and finally to a Category 5 by 11 p.m. ET.

Lee weakened slightly on Friday due to less favorable atmospheric conditions where the storm is churning, including wind shear and dry air, which are expected to persist for at least another 12 to 24 hours.

Lee will remain a powerful, major hurricane through the weekend, with the latest forecast calling for the hurricane to generally maintain its current strength with small fluctuations up or down possible.

Lee will bypass the northern Caribbean islands, sparing Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The only impact on the islands will be large waves and life-threatening rip currents this weekend.

PHOTO: Hurricane Lee path graphic

Hurricane Lee will slow down Sunday and early next week, allowing 10-foot waves to reach the Southeast U.S. mainland.

Lee is currently forecast to remain at category 4 strength through Tuesday. By late Tuesday into Wednesday, a more notable weakening trend could ensue, with the current forecast calling for Lee to weaken to a category 3 hurricane sometime on Wednesday.

By Thursday, Lee will be near Bermuda, bringing big waves.

PHOTO: Hurricane Lee wave height as of next Thursday 3:00 pm EST.

Hurricane Lee wave height as of next Thursday 3:00 pm EST.

ABC News

Long-range models can change over the next week, but they currently show Lee moving parallel to the East Coast. If Lee stays on that course, the East Coast would also be hit with rough surf and life-threatening rip currents throughout the upcoming week.

By Friday, waves reaching 10 to 20 feet will be possible along the coasts of New Jersey, Long Island and New England.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has pre-deployed assets to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, according to the White House.

President Joe Biden was briefed Thursday on the latest trajectory and FEMA’s preparations, the White House said.

ABC News’ Dan Peck contributed to this report.

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