Hurricane Lee’s rippling effects begin as wind gusts and power outages increase in New England
New England is beginning to feel the effects of Hurricane Lee, as it is expected to feel the worst of rain, wind and coastal flooding on Saturday.
While the center of the storm will likely stay east of the United States and move into Canadian offshore areas, Lee’s massive wind field is hundreds of miles wide and will not spare the United States its wrath, according to the FOX Forecast Center.
The governors of Massachusetts and Connecticut declared states of emergency before the storm and activated National Guard members to prepare for the required response.
By late Friday morning, winds had intensified in Massachusetts, reaching gusts of about 40 mph in Nantucket. Preparations were also completed on Cape Cod, where Governor Maura Healey declared a state of emergency and requested assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Hurricane Lee Live Tracker
The National Hurricane Center dropped its hurricane watch for Downeast Maine while Canada expanded its hurricane watch eastward to Icum Seacom. Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect for much of coastal New England, extending from the Massachusetts/Rhode Island border north into Canada, and covering much of the interior of central and eastern Maine.
In Canada, tropical storm watches are in effect for most of the coast of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.
At last report, the tornado was less than 500 miles southwest of Nova Scotia or about 290 miles southeast of Nantucket, Massachusetts.
Current forecasts indicate that Lee will likely make landfall along the western shores of Nova Scotia or perhaps the extreme southwestern corner of New Brunswick, but Lee’s large size means that the exact landing location will only minimally influence the expected impacts.
“Looking at the cone, you’ll notice it’s going to be very thin,” FOX Weather meteorologist Britta Merwin said. “The impacts will be outside the cone, especially when it comes to winds because the wind field is growing with this storm.”
Coastal communities are bracing for rising water levels due to storm surge and pounding waves
The combination of storm surge and tides will flood normally dry areas near the coast due to rising water moving inland.
1-3 feet is expected along the Cape Cod and New England coasts, with 1-2 feet along Long Island.
The deepest waters will occur along the immediate coast, where the surge will be accompanied by large, damaging waves — some as high as 10-15 feet or higher, depending on their proximity to the storm, the National Hurricane Center said.
“Some flooding is possible along much of the coast depending on the timing of the peak of the storm and how that coincides with the tidal cycle,” said Brian Norcross, a hurricane specialist at FOX Weather. “Water levels in Long Island Sound could reach 3 feet above normal high tide level and 2 feet on the south shore of Long Island, including Fire Island. Combined with wave energy from the hurricane, strong north and northeast winds will blow on Friday “Water from Long Island Sound and New York’s Great South Bay will push onto north-facing beaches, potentially damaging low-lying structures. “The threat will be more pronounced at high tide.”
Meanwhile, dangerous and rough surf is already battering much of the East Coast and will continue as the Category 1 hurricane moves north offshore.
“Ocean energy generated by the broad sweep of Hurricane Lee’s winds will peak along the mid-Atlantic coast (Friday),” Norcross said. “Extremely strong waves and high water levels will cause beach erosion in some areas at high tide. Currents along beaches and in inlets will be dangerously strong.”
By Thursday evening, waves and strong waves had already been observed along the southeastern coasts. North Carolina’s Outer Banks experienced flooding along Interstate 12 more than an hour before high tide was expected.
A Florida community reports its first death associated with Hurricane Lee
As of Friday morning, a Coastal Flood Watch and High Surf Advisory remained in effect for North Carolina’s coasts through Sunday.
Beaches from Florida to the Northeast will see these big waves and killer rip currents this weekend. Large waves hitting East Coast beaches will also cause widespread beach erosion.
Hurricane Lee will bring winds of over 60 mph and rain to the coasts
People living in warned areas in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine can expect wind gusts between 50 and 65 mph along the coast as Hurricane Lee makes its closest pass on Saturday. These strong winds have the potential to cause power outages, down trees, and cause coastal flooding. Areas slightly inland could see wind gusts between 40 and 50 mph.
“For consistent tropical storm force winds, we’re talking about Cape Cod and Nantucket and extending into coastal areas of Maine,” Merwin said. “Once you get inland, like across Vermont and inland locations in New Hampshire, we’re talking about tropical storm force wind gusts.”
With the bulk of the storm remaining east of most of New England, winds will remain strong but not extreme.
“Hurricane Lee will behave like a giant hurricane, which New England should be able to handle without a lot of trouble,” Norcross said. “The biggest difference is that the leaves are still on the trees, which means gusty winds (can) cause more damage than they do in the winter.”
Tropical storm gusts are strong enough to break branches and cause power outages. As for Friday evening, the number of power outages across New England exceeded 4,000, but there are still several hours before the storm reaches its core.
Hurricane Lee Timeline Tracker
The storm will not produce significant flooding rain due to its expected track and rapid movement, but some places along the coast in Maine could receive 3 to 5 inches of rain over the weekend.
Lee will move quickly across the Canadian Maritimes Sunday, allowing conditions to improve quickly in New England on Sunday. More rain returns to the Northeast on Monday as a traditional frontal system swings by.
Hurricane Lee brings strong winds and heavy surf to Bermuda
As Lee skipped Bermuda’s pink-sand beaches, the storm battered the islands with rain, wind and waves in recent days. Strong winds, gusting to 51 mph, caused power outages across the island Thursday afternoon. Watches were dropped in Bermuda for Hurricane Lee on Friday afternoon.
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