Hurricane Lorenzo strengthened into a Category 5 storm overnight before weakening into a Category 3 as it churned in the central Atlantic on Sunday evening.
In Florida, the National Weather Service in Melbourne warned of dangerous currents caused by Lorenzo.
“A HIGH RISK of dangerous and life-threatening rip currents will be present at all east central FL beaches today due to long period swell from Hurricane Lorenzo,” the Melbourne office said Monday. “Beachgoers are urged to be extremely cautious at the coast today and to avoid entering the surf, no matter what skill of swimmer.”
Swell from Lorenzo could produce waves generally up to 5 feet high along the East Coast, measured from the wave trough to its peak, said Kurt Korte, the lead East Coast forecaster at Surfline.com.
“Select beaches from the Outer Banks northward through New England” may see even larger waves, Korte said. “For beachgoers, longer-period swells like this can lead to a heightened risk for dangerous rip currents.”
Lorenzo, now a Category 2 hurricane, is heading away from the United States, and generally toward the Azores. But dangerous swells from the storm are “spreading across much of the North Atlantic basin,” the National Hurricane Center said Monday afternoon.
“These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions,” the center said.
Hurricane-force winds from Lorenzo are extending as far as 90 miles from the storm’s center, and tropical storm-force winds reach as far as 255 miles outward, the hurricane center said.
Lorenzo briefly grew into a Category 5 storm overnight Saturday, becoming the strongest hurricane recorded so far north and east in the Atlantic basin, the center said Saturday.
The center of the hurricane is expected to pass near western Azores early Wednesday, the NHC said. The Portuguese Institute for the Sea and the Atmosphere issued a hurricane warning for the central and western islands in the chain, the US center said.
Lorenzo is the strongest hurricane recorded so far north and east in the Atlantic basin, the National Hurricane Center said Saturday night when the storm reached Category 5. The hurricane’s thick core surrounded a big, clear eye as it joined the rare club of the most intense category of storms.
By Thursday, Lorenzo should weaken enough to lose its hurricane status, the center said.
While Lorenzo will be weakening and losing its tropical characteristics after passing the Azores, it will still be a strong storm system as it impacts Ireland and the UK on Thursday and Friday.
There will be a chance for heavy rain, but the primary impact will be the potential for strong winds along with high seas. Wind gusts of 40-60 mph are possible, especially on western shores of Ireland and the UK.
CNN’s Judson Jones and Taylor Ward contributed to this report.