Hurricane Lee spent the weekend bouncing around between different strength categorizations as it moved in and out of warmer and cooler ocean waters in the Atlantic. The current models are indicating that Lee will once again become a major hurricane as it moves back into warm water. But will it impact the U.S.? Here is the latest information regarding this potentially dangerous storm.
Latest on Hurricane Lee
Hurricane Lee has been on quite a journey over the last several days. After strengthening into a Category 5 storm on Friday morning, the storm weakened over the weekend as it moved into cooler waters. As of Monday morning, the storm was churning about 340 miles north of the Leeward Islands in the eastern portion of the Caribbean. Lee is currently a Category 3 storm, packing maximum sustained winds of 120 mph.
Forecasters are predicting the storm will continue to ebb and flow in intensity through Tuesday. The storm is expected to take a turn to the north by the middle of this week, taking it away from the Bahamas, Florida, and the Southeast.
Lee's Journey to a Category 5 Storm
Lee went through a period of rapid intensification late last week, going from a Category 1 storm to a monster Category 5 event in just 24 hours. The storm is now distinguished as the most powerful tropical weather event recorded this season in the Atlantic basin. Lee joins just six other hurricanes in the Atlantic to have intensified by 80 mph or greater within 24 hours. This list includes Eta in 2020, 2017's Maria, Matthew in 2016, Ike from 2008, 2007's Felix, and Wilma in the record-setting 2005 season.
The record of the greatest rate of intensification belongs to Hurricane Wilma. This storm's winds climbed from 70 mph to 175 mph in 24 hours.
Lee is also distinguished for its long journey, having traveled over 1,600 miles since it came to life last Tuesday. The current models predict that the storm will travel over 3,000 miles by the time that it dissipates.
Because Lee is so large, it has been able to create its own moisture. This creation has helped to keep it together and power it forward.
Where is Lee Headed Next?
Hurricane Lee is expected to lose some of its wind strength this week as it moves into cooler waters. However, the East Coast of the U.S. is still going to experience some of the storm's impacts in the form of rough sea conditions and rip currents. These hazards are forecast to impact the northern coast of Florida and up through New England and Atlantic Canada.
The coastline of the Carolinas will likely experience breezy conditions by the middle of the week. There is also the chance of minor beach erosion and coastal flooding during high tide.
The threat of impacts to the north will increase later in the week. While it is still days out, the latest models predict that Lee will make landfall late in the week somewhere between eastern New England and Atlantic Canada.
The exact landfall location will be influenced by the position of the jet stream in the coming days. An eastward movement of the jet stream will translate to more protection for the East Coast, sending the storm closer to Atlantic Canada.
Conversely, a stalling of the jet stream could bring the storm closer to the U.S. coastline. This scenario would result in a potential landfall in New England.
As a result, the current forecast is projecting the worst impacts in an area from southeastern Massachusetts and up through Nova Scotia. Regardless of if it experiences a direct impact, Lee is forecast to bring heavy rain and high winds to New England this coming weekend. How severe these impacts end up being will be dependent on how close Lee hugs the coast.
Peak wind gusts are expected to land in the 40 - 60 mph range in an area from Cape Cod, Massachusetts and up into Atlantic Canada. Should the storm make a direct strike on Atlantic Canada, the southern portion of Nova Scotia could see winds clocking in at 80 - 100 mph.
The zone most likely to see heavy rain includes northern Maine and New Brunswick and up through southern Newfoundland. The western portions of Nova Scotia are predicted to see rainfall amounts totaling 2 - 4 inches of rain beginning early this weekend.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is also warning shipping interests in the region to stay on top of the development of this storm in the coming days. Swells measuring 10 to 20 feet could develop just off the coastline of the U.S. and Atlantic Canada as the storm moves to the north.
Margot Predicted to Become Hurricane
Hurricane Lee is not the only tropical weather feature roaming the Atlantic basin this week. Tropical Depression Fourteen came to life near the Cabo Verde Islands last Tuesday. The feature became Tropical Storm Margot just a few hours later.
The NHC is predicting that Margot will intensify into a hurricane by the middle of the week as it moves deeper into the Atlantic and away from the Cabo Verde Islands. The good news is that Margot's projected track is not taking it near any major land masses. Regardless, the storm is serving as a reminder that this is the time of the year when frequent tropical weather events should be expected.
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