Hurricane Lee’s Track: The storm is expected to become larger and slow before a crucial turn to the north


Major Hurricane Lee will continue to grow in size after a decisive northward turn midweek that will determine the extent and severity of its impact on the Northeast, New England, Bermuda and Canada.

Lee was a Category 3 hurricane on Monday, located north of the Leeward Islands and Puerto Rico in the Atlantic Ocean, with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph, according to a 5 p.m. ET update from the National Hurricane Center. It is expected to weaken, grow in size, and accelerate as it heads north in the coming days.

Although it may be weaker, the larger storm has the potential to affect a more widespread area, which increases the likelihood of Lee’s impact on the East Coast – even if it is not in the form of a direct landfall.

“Even with lower peak winds, the size of the Lee wind field will continue to grow,” Michael Brennan, director of the National Hurricane Center, said at a news conference about the storm Monday. “We could see tropical storm force winds expanding by 50 to 60 to 70%.”

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As of Monday, the hurricane’s winds extended 75 miles from Lee’s center, up from 45 miles Sunday. Tropical storm force winds extended 185 miles from its core. Tropical storm winds could extend more than 300 miles from Lee’s center later this week, Brennan said.

“There is still a lot of uncertainty about the exact track of how close it will come off the coast of New England and Atlanta Canada over the next few days, but there is certainly a chance of significant impacts with a growing storm,” Brennan said. ”

The exact course Lee takes, even if he stays off the coast of the United States, will be crucial. A storm’s large wind field means that oscillations to the east or west will affect the intensity of the storm on land. Even if Li remains hundreds of miles from the coast, it can still lash the coast with strong winds, rain and coastal flooding.

The storm’s final track after passing through Bermuda on Thursday or Friday remains highly uncertain as its current slowdown is also delaying key forecast details. Exactly when, where and how quickly Lee turns north will determine how close he will be to the East Coast on his closest approach over the weekend – a detail that can come into more focus on Wednesday.

If Lee’s track had been further west before turning north, areas north of the Carolinas—particularly eastern New England and Atlantic Canada—would be more vulnerable to rain, winds, and coastal flooding. If the storm turns abruptly, it will turn east and reduce risks to the entire East Coast.

Bermuda could escape a direct hit, but could face strong winds and heavy rain as Lee turned west. Brennan said watches could be issued for the island on Tuesday.

Regardless of its final path, the storm will send large waves to a developing area of ​​the East Coast throughout the week as it heads north off the coast. This will lead to coastal erosion, dangerous waves and overwhelming currents that threaten life on beaches.

Dangerous waves were already occurring along Florida’s coast and on several of the country’s easternmost Caribbean islands, as well as the British and US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispanola, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Bahamas and Bermuda.

Preliminary data from the National Weather Service showed that raging currents have already killed 71 people in the United States this year. Three people died in New Jersey due to rip currents that raged in the wake of Hurricane Franklin last week.

Lee, which was a Category 1 storm on Thursday, intensified exceptionally quickly to a rare Category 5 status as it moved west across the Atlantic Ocean, doubling its wind speeds to 165 mph in just one day.

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