New Englanders are bracing for Hurricane Lee’s arrival as the Category 1 storm whirls its way toward the northeastern corner of the United States on Friday night.
Latest updates from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) showed the eye of Lee reaching wind speeds of up to 80 mph and heading northeast at 20 mph as of 8 p.m. Friday. Forecasters predict that the storm will make landfall near Nova Scotia sometime Saturday afternoon.
No matter where Lee lands, heavy rainfall, wind gusts and flooding could be in store far from the center of the storm. Portions of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and much of Maine were placed under a tropical storm warning Friday night through Saturday, with potential wind speeds of up to 69 mph and waves reaching from 14 to 19 feet along the coast.
Heavy rainfall from the storm could also deliver flooding Saturday in portions of eastern Maine, as well as in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in southeast Canada. The NHC warned residents that weather conditions are likely to cause downed trees and potential power outages in affected areas.
Maine Governor Janet Mills declared a State of Emergency on Thursday ahead of the volatile weekend, and the strongest winds are predicted to occur over the state’s gulf. Hurricane watches have already been lifted for parts of Maine, however—the Canadian Hurricane Center extended a hurricane watch Friday night for parts of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, where such conditions are expected Saturday.
The brunt of the storm is likely to miss Boston, with Cape Code and Nantucket experiencing strong winds, potential coastal flooding and rainfall Friday into Saturday. But forecasters at WBZ Boston predict that the center of Lee will likely pass about 200 miles east of southern portions of New England by Saturday morning, sparing much of Massachusetts and New Hampshire that fell under the tropical storm warnings.
The last hurricane to make landfall in New England was Hurricane Bob, a Category 2 storm and the first Atlantic hurricane of the season in 1991 that plowed through parts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts before downgrading to a tropical storm as it headed up through Maine, according to the NHC. A hurricane hasn’t made landfall in Maine since 1969, when Hurricane Gerda hit Eastport as a Category 1.
Ahead of this year’s Atlantic storm season, scientists predicted from five to nine hurricanes, with a 40 percent chance of 2023 being a “normal” season. Last month, however, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration changed its prediction, foreseeing an above-normal level of activity this fall, citing record-warm sea surface temperatures.
Newsweek reached out to the National Weather Service via email Friday night for additional information.