Tropical storm warnings are in place across New England as weather conditions are expected to begin deteriorating Friday evening as Hurricane Lee makes its closest approach.
Boston could experience strong tropical storm winds overnight, and residents fear the wind and heavy rain could break branches and limbs and bring down power lines, leaving thousands in the dark.
A state of emergency has been proactively declared in Maine as the state faces the worst hurricane threat in nearly 15 years.
“We are tracking the storm’s path and coordinating with our federal and local partners to prepare for its arrival,” Gov. Janet Mills said in a statement. “We urge Maine residents to exercise caution and take common-sense steps to ensure they have everything they need to stay safe as the storm approaches weekend.”
The NHC says Lee will continue to weaken as it moves toward a more volatile environment including wind shear, drier air and colder waters.
However, Lee’s massive size and expected increase in its forward speed suggest that the weakening process may be slow and that the storm will continue to grow in size as it continues to turn northward.
The hurricane is expected to become extratropical, meaning the storm would no longer need to draw energy from warm waters.
So for the millions of people living along the New England coast, from Connecticut to Maine, the potential impacts could be more like a nor’easter in winter rather than a hurricane making landfall.
For coastal areas from Massachusetts to Maine, there is an increased risk of tropical storm force winds of 39 mph or greater.
Large waves reaching 10 to 20 feet will crash against the shore and cause the risk of beach erosion and coastal flooding.
Where is Hurricane Lee?
According to the latest NHC advisory, Hurricane Lee is located approximately 170 miles west of Bermuda and approximately 590 miles south of Nantucket, Massachusetts.
Hurricane Lee is moving north at 14 mph with maximum sustained winds of 55 mph, making it a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
Due to its proximity to Bermuda, a tropical storm warning is in force for the island and tropical storm conditions are observed across the entire UK island territory.
The NHC says Hurricane Lee continues to weaken but will remain a “significant and dangerous hurricane” as it continues to track north.
What is the predicted path for Hurricane Lee?
Given the direction of the hurricane, Maine and Canadian provinces are expected to experience the worst weather, but due to the width of the storm, impacts will be felt hundreds of miles from the center.
Coastal communities from Florida to Maine have already experienced impacts from the hurricane in the form of rough seas and the Fernandina Beach Police Department in Florida said it had found the body of a swimmer who had been swept away by violent currents.
The heart of the hurricane was more than 700 miles away when the swimmer likely encountered a rip current and did not resurface while in the ocean along northeast Florida.
What watches or warnings are in effect for Hurricane Lee in the United States?
Tropical storm and hurricane warnings were issued for millions of people from New England to Canada.
A tropical storm warning is in effect for every coastal city from Westport, Massachusetts, to the Canada-U.S. border.
Additionally, a hurricane watch is in effect for Downeast Maine.
In Canada, a hurricane watch and tropical storm warning are in effect for hundreds of kilometers of coastline in the provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
A Tropical Storm Warning is issued when tropical storm force winds (sustained winds 39 to 73 mph) are expected within the storm warning area within 36 hours. These winds could be accompanied by storm surge, coastal flooding and/or river flooding.
A Tropical Storm Watch is issued when tropical storm force winds are possible in the storm watch area, usually within 48 hours.
A Hurricane Watch is issued when hurricane force winds (sustained winds of 74 mph or greater) are possible in the watch area, usually within 48 hours.
What impact will Lee have in New England?
Hurricane Lee is expected to bring strong wind gusts and possibly damage to coastal areas of New England, as well as massive waves and heavy rain beginning Friday.
The FOX Forecast Center expects Lee’s wind field to extend approximately 560 miles in diameter, which would have significant impacts in New England.
Winds could gust between 30 and 40 mph from the Boston area to Worcester and northeastern Connecticut.
On the South Shore of Massachusetts, winds will be a bit stronger and could reach between 40 and 50 mph Saturday morning.
Strong wind gusts are also expected on Cape Cod, from Barnstable to Provincetown.
And in Maine, winds could reach between 50 and 60 mph along the coast, including Rockland.
“It’s not a case of ‘pack your bags and go’ (storm),” Merwin said. “It’s all about hunkering down, prepare to lose power. We’re going to have really bad conditions on Saturday and then we wake up on Sunday and it’s going to be a new day.
Most of the heavy rain is expected to fall over Atlantic Canada, but depending on the path of Hurricane Lee, a few centimeters of rain could fall over New England.
Coastal areas from Massachusetts to Maine will see the highest rain totals, with Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and most of Maine receiving about 1 to 2 inches, with higher amounts along eastern coastal areas of the Massachusetts, including Cape Cod.
Southeast Maine could also see more, with forecast totals between 2 and 5 inches.
New Englanders have one more day to prepare for possible impacts and power outages Lee could have on the region before the weather begins to deteriorate on Friday.
“We may still see a 24-hour period where you might be without power, which means everything in your refrigerator is going to go bad,” Merwin said. “Your food can’t last 24 hours without power to your refrigerator. So maybe buy a few things from the store over the next few days that you can eat without having to worry about refrigerating them.
New York Post