Hurricane Lee will regain strength as AccuWeather meteorologists monitor impacts to the U.S. and Atlantic Canada – AccuWeather.com/en/
AccuWeather meteorologists continue to track Hurricane Lee’s path as it moves north of the Caribbean. They say it will strengthen into a major hurricane over the next day or so as it moves over abnormally warm ocean waters.
Hurricane Lee quickly grew into a monster Category 5 hurricane that struck the Atlantic Ocean last Friday morning. It will remain a powerful and dangerous hurricane as it orbits north of the Leeward Islands on Sunday, before heading north along the East Coast of the United States by the middle of this week. AccuWeather meteorologists warn that the threat of impacts in eastern New England is increasing, and that much of the East Coast will see high seas and dangerous surf.
Lee, which was named in the mid-Atlantic on Tuesday, was located about 340 miles north of the Northern Leeward Islands in the eastern Caribbean Sea on Monday morning. It was a Category 3 hurricane and had maximum sustained winds of 120 mph. Changes in eye structure were evident and some fluctuations in strength were likely from Monday to Tuesday.
Due to its massive strength from Thursday into Friday morning, becoming a Category 5 for a period of time, Lee holds the title of the strongest hurricane to hit the Atlantic Ocean during the 2023 season.
Lee becomes a brutal tornado
Late last week, Hurricane Lee experienced rapid intensification. Early Friday morning, Lee reached Category 5 strength on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale and gusts of 165 mph. Just 24 hours ago, it was a Category 1 hurricane with winds of 80 mph. Rapid intensification occurs when sustained winds of a tropical system increase the speed of 35 mph or more in a 24-hour period. Lee doubled the criteria for rapid condensation, which is extremely rare.
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In fact, only six other Atlantic hurricanes strengthened by 80 mph or more in a 24-hour period. According to Philip Klotzbach, a meteorologist at Colorado State University, Other hurricanes intensified at a similarly dizzying pace They include Etta in 2020, Maria in 2017, Matthew in 2016, Ike in 2008, Felix in 2007, and Wilma in 2005.
“Wilma, from the 2005 mega-hurricane season, holds the record for rapid 24-hour intensification in the Atlantic Basin,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Bill Digger. “The system’s sustained winds increased by 105 mph from a 70 mph tropical storm to a Category 5 hurricane of 175 mph in 24 hours.”
Lee will live a long time with fluctuations in power
Lee has already traveled more than 1,600 miles since his birth over the western mid-Atlantic early last week, and is likely to double that distance by the end of this week.
The large hurricane will take a curved path around a large area of high pressure centered over the mid-Atlantic, which will guide the powerful storm north of the northern islands in the Caribbean on Sunday, then northeast of the Bahamas, western Bermuda and eastern southeastern United States in the first half of this week. .
“Changes in the structure of Eye of Lee will result in some fluctuations in hurricane strength through this weekend,” said Bernie Rhino, AccuWeather’s chief meteorologist.
Rhino noted that Lee has been so intense that it has created its own wet environment since Thursday — a factor that could help powerful hurricanes maintain their strength.
A phenomenon known as wind shear may also contribute to strength fluctuations this weekend. Strong wind shear, or winds varying with height, can quickly tear organized tropical systems or make it more difficult for hurricanes to develop. The lack of vertical wind shear is ideal for tropical strengthening and organization.
Hurricane Lee forecast to impact US and Canada
From the middle of the week forward, the exact track of Hurricane Lee will determine the scope of direct and indirect impacts in the eastern United States and Atlantic Canada. Lee’s slow forward speed for some time this week may cause the system to lose some wind intensity as cold water from the depths is pushed to the surface. However, Li will still be a powerful and dangerous typhoon.
“Starting Sunday, sea and wave levels will rise to dangerous levels along the central and northern coast of Florida and extend north through the mid-Atlantic and New England coasts this week,” said Joe Lundberg, AccuWeather chief meteorologist.
Building waves will lead to frequent and strong currents, crashing waves, beach erosion and even coastal flooding at times of high tide. Refreshing conditions are expected along the Carolina coast during the latter half of this week.
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AccuWeather meteorologists gave a pretty clear indication from the point of view of the direct hit from Florida into North Carolina, which will prevent the high winds and heavy rain that battered Lee from reaching the recently hard-hit areas of Idalia.
However, by late last week, forecasters began noticing that the risk of impacts was increasing northward along the North American coast from New England to the Canadian Maritime Provinces and the large Canadian island of Newfoundland.
AccuWeather meteorologists are closely monitoring the future track of Hurricane Lee as the storm approaches North America later this week into the upcoming weekend. At this point, forecasters believe Lee will make landfall somewhere from far eastern New England to Atlantic Canada.
As Lee approaches, the behavior of the jet stream will determine the extent of direct impacts in the northeastern United States.
If the jet stream swings eastward and off the Atlantic coast at a rapid pace, that should help protect the mid-Atlantic from feeling direct rain and strong winds from Lee. In this case, Lee would be pushed forward and would avoid a direct strike on the United States, but would likely turn toward Atlantic Canada.
However, if the jet stream stops, then combined with Lee’s initially slow motion, the powerful storm could be pulled closer to the United States by steering winds through the middle and later part of next week. In the latter scenario, there is a risk of landfall in eastern New England with widespread risk to life and property.
Forecasters identify initial impacts from Lee from southeastern Massachusetts toward the northeast across Nova Scotia and the Newfoundland and Labrador regions. Greater impacts are likely in southern and eastern Nova Scotia, especially over the coming weekend.
“The area in the United States that really needs attention is along the east coast of New England,” Rhino said, adding that parts of Atlantic Canada would also likely experience direct impacts from Lee by late week.
Even if Lee’s center remains offshore, heavy rain and strong winds are expected to reach parts of New England over the coming weekend. Lee’s proximity to the coast will determine how severe the conditions will be in terms of storm damage, high winds and heavy rain.
“What tends to happen as hurricanes move into northern latitudes during September and October is that rain and wind fields tend to expand as the storm’s high winds decrease,” said Dan DeBaudouin, director of forecast operations at AccuWeather. This is how a storm center passing a few hundred miles to the east could bring heavy rain and/or strong winds to parts of the Northeast, depending on the weather pattern.
By the end of next week, Lee’s steering breezes will increase and will significantly increase the hurricane’s forward speed.
Peak wind gusts from Lee will be 40-60 mph possible from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, to parts of Newfoundland and Labrador, with wind gusts up to 80-100 mph as the storm could make landfall across areas south of Nova Scotia.
Forecasters are urging shipping, fishing and cruise interests to closely monitor the path of Hurricane Lee, which will generate huge waves. Deep sea wave heights could range from 30 to 40 feet and locally higher near a powerful storm that will likely remain a hurricane for an extended period in North Atlantic waters. Waves of 10 to 20 feet may be as close as a few dozen miles offshore.
Heavy rains could spread from the border of Maine and New Brunswick through Nova Scotia and southern Newfoundland over the coming weekend as Lee heads north. A wide swath of 1-2 inches is expected across this region, with a possibility of 2-4 inches in western Nova Scotia early Saturday.
AccuWeather was the first to create tracking maps for Lee before it became a specific tropical system and the first to forecast it becoming a Category 5 hurricane, about 24 hours in advance of the National Hurricane Center.
Margot will become the fifth hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean
Elsewhere in the Atlantic, Tropical Depression 14 formed near a group of islands off the west coast of Africa called the Cabo Verde Islands on Thursday noon, and hours later was upgraded to Tropical Storm Margot.
Margot is likely to intensify into a hurricane before the middle of this week. Once this system moves away from the islands of Cabo Verde, it is unlikely to pose a threat to territory in the near future.
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