Lee prompts hurricane and storm surge watches in parts of New England; new depression expected in Atlantic

NHC/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/NHC

The National Hurricane Center has issued a hurricane watch for the coast of northern Maine, as well as tropical storm warnings for most of coastal New England, including Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. There is also a storm surge warning for Cape Cod and Nantucket.

Elsewhere in the Atlantic, Hurricane Margot may have reached peak intensity. Farther east, a low-pressure system will likely become a tropical depression by this weekend, according to the latest forecast.

Hurricane Lee has weakened slightly, to a Category 2 storm with sustained wind speeds of 105 mph, and continues to arc northward, accelerating on a trajectory that will carry it along the eastern seaboard of the U.S. Forecasters said the storm could turn slightly to the east Friday night and Saturday, which would bring it closer to southern New England.

The National Hurricane Center said in its 5 p.m. Eastern time update that tropical-storm-force winds could reach Long Island and southern New England by Friday afternoon and the storm will be located off Cape Cod by Saturday morning.

Forecasters expect 1 to 4 inches of rain across portions of eastern New England into New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, with the potential for flooding in streams.

The storm has widened over time and is expected to continue to grow as it accelerates north. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 115 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 265 miles.

Meteorologist Jeff Berardelli of WFLA-TV in Tampa, Florida, posted on social media that “the biggest impact from these large fast-moving systems ... is huge waves and substantial surge.” He shared a map indicating potential wave heights of 10 feet along the south shore of Long Island 16 feet on Cape Cod.

The National Weather Service has said there’s a risk of high surf in Palm Beach County from Friday to Sunday, and a risk of rip currents in Broward and Palm Beach counties from Thursday to Sunday.

A tropical storm watch was in effect for Bermuda on Wednesday with Lee passing to its west. Bermuda could see up to 2 inches of rain Thursday into Friday, forecasters said.

As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, Lee was about 380 miles south-southwest of Bermuda, moving north-northwest at 10 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Last week, Lee went through exceptionally rapid intensification, vaulting from a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph early Thursday to a dangerous Category 5 storm with 165 mph winds in just 24 hours.

The hurricane center said islands in the far eastern Caribbean, the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos Islands, the Bahamas and Bermuda were experiencing swells from Lee as of Tuesday night.

Forecasters said “dangerous surf and rip currents” were expected to move north along much of the coast and to Atlantic Canada in the next few days.

Lee is expected to move over cooler sea temperatures left in the wake of Hurricane Franklin later in the week. That, along with wind shear and dry air, is expected to weaken Lee steadily late this week and throughout the weekend, forecasters said.

Margot is holding steady as a Category 1 hurricane in the central Atlantic, but its path is forecast to meander in a circular fashion.

The storm has maximum sustained winds of 90 mph, with hurricane-force winds extending outward up to 70 miles from Margot’s center and tropical-storm-force winds extending outward up to 230 miles.

Forecasters said Wednesday that a meandering Margot may have reached its peak intensity and could be a post-tropical cyclone by early next week.

Forecasters also are monitoring a broad area of low pressure moving west-northwest or northwestward across the central Atlantic that is likely to develop into a tropical depression.

As of 2 p.m. Wednesday, the hurricane center said it had a 70% chance of developing in the next two days and a 90% chance in the next week.

The season officially runs through Nov. 30. The next named storm will be Nigel.