New Englanders are bracing for the arrival of Hurricane Lee as the Category 1 storm heads toward the northeastern United States Friday evening.
The latest updates from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) showed Lee’s eye reaching wind speeds of up to 80 mph and heading northeast at 20 mph at 8 p.m. Friday. Forecasters predict the storm will make landfall near Nova Scotia on Saturday afternoon.
No matter where Lee lands, heavy rain, gusty winds and flooding could occur far from the center of the storm. Parts of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and much of Maine were under a tropical storm warning Friday night through Saturday, with potential wind speeds up to 69 mph and waves reaching 14 to 19 feet along the coast.
Heavy rain from the storm could also cause flooding Saturday in parts of eastern Maine, as well as New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in southeastern Canada. The NHC warned residents that the weather conditions risked falling trees and possible power outages in affected areas.
Maine Gov. Janet Mills declared a state of emergency Thursday ahead of a volatile weekend, with the strongest winds expected to blow across the state’s Gulf. However, the hurricane watch has already been lifted for parts of Maine: The Canadian Hurricane Center on Friday evening extended its hurricane watch for parts of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, where such conditions are expected Saturday.
The brunt of the storm will likely miss Boston, with Cape Code and Nantucket experiencing high winds, potential coastal flooding and precipitation Friday through Saturday. But WBZ Boston forecasters predict that Lee’s center will likely pass about 200 miles east of southern parts of New England by Saturday morning, sparing much of Massachusetts and New Hampshire that fell under tropical storm warnings.
The last hurricane to make landfall in New England was Hurricane Bob, a Category 2 storm and the first Atlantic hurricane of the season in 1991, which passed through parts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts before becoming a tropical storm as it headed toward Maine, according to the NHC. No hurricane has made landfall in Maine since 1969, when Hurricane Gerda struck Eastport as a Category 1.
Before this year’s Atlantic storm season, scientists predicted between five and nine hurricanes, with a 40% chance that 2023 would be a “normal” season. Last month, however, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration changed its forecast, predicting a higher-than-normal level of activity this fall, citing record sea surface temperatures.
News week contacted the National Weather Service by email Friday evening for more information.