Coastal communities from Cape Cod to Canada are expecting Hurricane Lee to arrive tonight and Saturday, bringing coastal flooding, damaging winds and heavy rains.
The National Hurricane Center placed Maine under a hurricane watch. Governor Janet Mills has declared a state of emergency and urged residents to prepare for Lee’s potential landfall. Mills also requested that President Joe Biden issue a federal disaster declaration to preemptively give the state access to federal resources.
The Category 1 storm is forecast to approach the coast of New England and Atlantic Canada today and Saturday. Lee is moving toward the north near 16 mph today with a faster forward speed expected through Saturday. Lee is then expected to turn toward the north-northeast and northeast and move across Atlantic Canada on Saturday night and Sunday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Maximum sustained winds are near 85 mph with higher gusts. Little change in strength is expected through tonight. Lee is forecast to become post-tropical and begin weakening by Saturday, but meteorologists say it is still expected to be a large and dangerous storm when it reaches eastern New England and Atlantic Canada.
The weather service warned that hurricane conditions are possible in the Downeast Maine counties of Washington and Hancock beginning in Ellsworth and stretching to the east all the way to the Maritime Provinces, and in Atlantic Canada on Saturday.
Tropical storm warnings are in effect from the southern Massachusetts coast including Cape Cod and the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Tropical storm conditions are expected to begin in southern New England late this afternoon and spread northward through Saturday. These conditions are likely to lead to downed trees and potential power outages, the weather service warned.
From tonight through Saturday night, Lee is expected to produce rainfall amounts of 1 to 4 inches across portions of eastern New England into portions of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. This may produce localized urban and small stream flooding.
A combination of storm surge and tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. The water could reach 1 to 3 feet from Flushing, New York to the Canadian border, Long Island Sound, Cape Cod and the Islands, and Boston Harbor., the National Hurricane Center warned.
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said the city is concentrating its mitigation efforts in flood-prone neighborhoods including East Boston and the North End. Wu compared the coming hurricane to a winter Nor’easter.
Across the region, state and local emergency crews have been preparing for the storm for days. Utility firms across the region have positioned personnel and equipment to respond to downed trees and power outages. They have cited concerns over the weakened roots and health of trees due to the heavy rains this summer. Boaters and beachgoers have been advised to stay out of the waters.
Photo: Storm activity off New England Sept. 15. NOAA satellite image.
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