Hurricane Lee remained a major Category 3 but with a larger wind field and a path that could hit New England or Canada this weekend while the National Hurricane Center continued to track Hurricane Margot and one other system with a high chance of becoming the next tropical depression or storm.
As of 8 p.m. Lee still had 115 mph sustained winds and higher gusts located about 515 miles south-southwest of Bermuda moving northwest at 7 mph. Its hurricane-force winds extend out 125 miles and its tropical-storm-force winds extend out 240 miles.
“Lee is forecast to turn toward the north on Thursday and increase in forward speed,” forecasters said. “Some slow weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours though the wind field is to remain large.”
Bermuda was placed under a tropical storm watch Tuesday as well with 1-2 inches forecast for the island.
Its five-day cone of uncertainty has it diminishing in strength through the weekend, but with a potential landfall that includes Cape Cod in Massachusetts, Maine, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. But at that point, the storm is predicted to be shifting into an extratropical storm with 70 mph winds.
“Despite the weakening that is forecast, keep in mind that the expanding wind field of Lee will produce impacts well away from the storm center,” forecasters said.
In addition, its swells have been hitting Florida and other parts of the U.S. East Coast as well as portions of the Lesser Antilles, the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, Turks and Caicos, Bahamas and Bermuda.
“These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions. Dangerous surf and rip currents are affecting portions of the southeastern U.S. coast, and these conditions are forecast to spread northward along much of the U.S. East Coast during the next couple of days,” according to the NHC advisory.
— Philip Klotzbach (@philklotzbach) September 12, 2023
Lee has generated more than four days of activity rated as a major hurricane. It formed as a Category 1 hurricane Wednesday evening. It then shot up to Category 5 by Thursday evening and reached a peak strength of 165 mph sustained winds Friday morning.
While it had been projected to grow even further, conditions caused the system to dial back, but aside from an 18-hour run Saturday into Sunday, the system has remained Category 3 with at least 115 mph sustained winds.
It’s the third major hurricane of the season following Franklin and Idalia, which struck Florida’s Gulf Coast on Aug. 30.
Meanwhile, newly formed Hurricane Margot, the fifth hurricane overall this year, continues to grow in the eastern Atlantic.
At 5 p.m. Hurricane Margo had 80 mph sustained winds keeping it a Category 1. It was located about 835 miles west-southwest of the Azores moving north at 14 mph. Its hurricane-force winds extend out 80 miles and tropical-storm-force winds extend out 265 miles.
“A turn toward the north-northwest at a slower forward speed is expected beginning Wednesday. A meandering northward motion is then expected on Thursday and Friday. Margot’s track beyond Friday is unusually uncertain, but a slow meandering motion is generally expected into the weekend,” forecasters said. “Slight fluctuations in intensity, up or down, are possible during the next several days.”
The NHC is also tracking a tropical wave that moved off the coast of Africa this week that has grown into a broad area of low pressure with disorganized showers and thunderstorms. It’s now approaching the central tropical Atlantic well southwest of the Cape Verde Islands.
“This system is expected to consolidate, with a low on the western side becoming dominant over the next day or two,” forecasters said. “Gradual development of the low is expected after that, and a tropical depression is likely to form by this weekend while the system moves west-northwestward or northwestward at about 15 mph across the central tropical Atlantic.”
The NHC gives it a 30% chance to form in the next two days and 80% in the next seven.
If it grows into named-storm strength, it could become Tropical Storm Nigel, the 14th named storm of the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season that runs through Nov. 30.