Hurricane Lee, a Category 1 storm, is on track to swipe parts of coastal New England and Atlantic Canada on Friday with heavy rain and strong winds that could lead to flooding in some areas and knock out power across communities. The storm has been growing in size since the weekend and hurricane-force winds now extend 125 miles from Lee’s center.
Tropical storm warnings issued for New England and Canada
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) issued a tropical storm warning for New Brunswick from the US-Canada border to Fort Lawrence, including Grand Manan Island. Another tropical storm warning is also in effect for the coast of Nova Scotia from Fort Lawrence to Point Tupper. Tropical storm conditions – winds of at least 39 mph – are expected to start in southern New England on Friday afternoon, the NHC said.
A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area within 36 hours. A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area. A watch is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous.
The NHC also extended a tropical storm warning along New England’s coast to the US and Canada border, and a hurricane watch for Stonington, Maine, to the Canadian border. Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket are included in the warning area.
Hurricane Lee nears Bermuda with strong winds and rain
As Lee approached the New England coast, Maine Gov. Janet Mills declared an emergency Thursday, requesting federal aid in preparation for the storm. The center of Lee was about 170 miles west-northwest of Bermuda as of Thursday night, carrying maximum sustained winds of 85 mph, according to the NHC.
Lee has been whipping strong winds and tropical storm conditions in Bermuda throughout Thursday, triggering power outages on the island. Those weather conditions are expected to continue through Friday morning, and an island-wide tropical storm warning is in effect for as the hurricane treks west of Bermuda.
The NHC warned that Lee could produce up to 4 inches of rain over Bermuda through Friday morning, which could cause flash flooding. Large swells generated by Lee will affect Bermuda for the next few days, creating life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.
Hurricane Lee poses a threat to the US East Coast
Lee is expected to remain quite strong through Friday night, but will lose some intensity Saturday into Sunday as it moves over slightly cooler waters churned up by Hurricane Franklin earlier this month. But while Lee loses some strength this week, the hurricane will simultaneously continue to grow in size and begin to move faster.
A larger storm could impact a more widespread area, even if its winds no longer reach monster hurricane levels. A larger Hurricane Lee, then, is more likely to affect the Eastern Seaboard – even if not through a direct landfall.
The NHC said that dangerous surf and rip current conditions were ongoing along much of the East Coast late Thursday night. These conditions are expected to spread northward along the coast of Atlantic Canada on Friday.
Lee could also bring heavy rainfall and gusty winds to portions of eastern New England into portions of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia from Friday night into Saturday. The NHC said that isolated flash flooding is possible, especially in urban areas.