Forecasters expect Hurricane Lee to make a northward turn this week, bringing rip currents and high surf to the East Coast.
While it has weakened from the Category 5 status it held last week – and could drop further as it hits cooler waters – Lee remains a major hurricane at Category 3, and is projected to increase in size over the coming days, potentially impacting a much wider area. However, it is not expected to make landfall this week.
The National Hurricane Center reported Monday that the storm had maximum sustained winds of 115 miles per hour, heading northwest at 7 mph. According to the center, it will likely be offshore of the U.S. Atlantic coast by Friday, sweeping westward of Bermuda and bringing tropical storm conditions to the island.
“It remains too soon to know what level of additional impacts Lee might have along the northeast U.S. coast and Atlantic Canada late this week and this weekend,” the center reported. “However, wind and rainfall hazards will likely extend well away from the center as Lee grows in size.”
While Lee’s ultimate path remains uncertain, it is likely to buffet New England and the Canadian Maritimes with high winds and coastal flooding. This is unfortunate news for Massachusetts and Rhode Island, which have already seen floods from heavy rainfall, prompting Leominster, MA to declare a state of emergency.
Hurricane Lee is the fourth hurricane of this Atlantic hurricane season. A powerful Cape Verde hurricane, like 2017’s Irma and 2018’s Florence, Lee broke records with its 18-hour intensification from Category 1 to 5 last Thursday – one of the fastest intensifications for an Atlantic hurricane in recorded history – peaking at sustained winds of 160 mph. It weakened to Category 2 on Saturday due to wind shear, but re-strengthened to its current status the next day.
Hurricane Margot is also moving northward in the Atlantic, just northeast of Lee. It is currently a Category 1 storm.