Hurricane, tropical storm and storm surge watches are now in effect ahead of Hurricane Lee’s anticipated impacts to the coast of New England later this week.
A hurricane watch is in place for the coast of northern Maine to the Canadian border, and most of coastal New England is under a tropical storm watch, including Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. There is also a storm surge watch for Cape Cod and Nantucket with forecasters predicting between 2 and 4 feet.
Elsewhere in the Atlantic, Hurricane Margot may have reached peak intensity. Farther east, odds are increasing for a low-pressure system to become a tropical depression by this weekend, according to the latest forecast.
Hurricane Lee has weakened slightly to a Category 2 storm with sustained wind speeds of 105 mph and continues to arc northward, accelerating on a trajectory that will carry it along the eastern seaboard of the U.S. Forecasters said Lee will move north more quickly through Friday, after passing to the west of Bermuda on Thursday.
Lee will then approach the coast of New England and Canada on Friday and Saturday. The National Hurricane Center said Wednesday night that tropical storm conditions were expected to begin in Bermuda early Thursday while coastal New England could see tropical storm conditions starting Friday night. Hurricane conditions will be possible in areas of down-east Maine Saturday.
Forecasters expect 1 to 4 inches of rain across portions of eastern New England into New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, with the potential for localized urban flooding and flooding in streams.
The storm has widened over time and is expected to continue to grow as it accelerates north. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 115 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 265 miles.
Meteorologist Jeff Berardelli of WFLA-TV in Tampa posted on social media that “the biggest impact from these large fast-moving systems … is huge waves and substantial surge.” He shared a map indicating potential wave heights of 10 feet along the south shore of Long Island and 16 feet on Cape Cod.
Forecasters said “life-threatening surf and rip current conditions” were expected to move north along much of the coast and to Atlantic Canada in the next few days. The National Weather Service Miami said Wednesday night that the risk of rip currents at beaches in Palm Beach County and Broward County could increase later this week and over the weekend as Lee’s swells move into the area from the north.
A tropical storm warning was in effect for Bermuda on Wednesday night with Lee passing to its west. Bermuda could see up to 2 inches of rain Thursday into Friday, forecasters said.
As of 8 p.m. Wednesday, Lee was about 370 miles south-southwest of Bermuda and 950 miles south of Nantucket, moving north-northwest at 9 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Last week, Lee went through exceptionally rapid intensification, vaulting from a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph early Thursday to a dangerous Category 5 storm with 165 mph winds in just 24 hours.
The hurricane center said the eastern U.S., islands in the far eastern Caribbean, the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos Islands, the Bahamas and Bermuda were all experiencing swells from Lee as of Wednesday night. The swells were beginning to reach Atlantic Canada as well.
Lee is expected to move over cooler sea temperatures left in the wake of Hurricane Franklin later in the week, and forecasters are expecting some slow weakening over the next few days as of Wednesday night. Still, forecasters said Lee will be a “very large and dangerous hurricane” this weekend.
Margot is holding steady as a Category 1 hurricane in the central Atlantic, but its path is forecast to meander in a circular fashion.
The storm has maximum sustained winds of 90 mph, with hurricane-force winds extending outward up to 70 miles from Margot’s center and tropical-storm-force winds extending outward up to 230 miles.
Forecasters also are monitoring a broad area of low pressure moving west-northwest or northwestward across the central Atlantic that is likely to develop into a tropical depression. Its showers and thunderstorms were better organized Wednesday night.
As of 8 p.m. Wednesday, the hurricane center said it had an 80% chance of developing in the next two days and a 90% chance in the next week.
The season officially runs through Nov. 30. The next named storm will be Nigel.