As rainfall arrives to coastal Massachusetts and Maine on Saturday, Hurricane Lee also threatens to bring damaging winds to parts of southeastern New England and Atlantic Canada.
The most significant impacts on the US are the possibility of some coastal flooding and tropical-storm-force winds churning in coastal New England, particularly Maine where a state emergency has been declared. A hurricane watch is in effect for the southern coasts of the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
Lee is a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph as its core was 215 miles east of Nantucket, Massachusetts, as of early Saturday morning, the National Hurricane Center said in its 2 a.m. ET advisory. Moving north at about 22 mph, Lee is not expected to make landfall in the US.
Despite being hundreds of miles away from the US East Coast, tropical storm conditions were battering the coasts of Massachusetts and Nova Scotia early Saturday morning as similar impacts loom for Maine, hurricane center forecasters said.
“These conditions are likely to lead to downed trees and potential power outages,” the hurricane center warned.
Hurricane-strength winds could be felt up to 115 miles from Lee’s center while and tropical-storm-force winds extended by up to 345 miles.
In addition to ferocious winds, Lee could also unleash up to 6 inches of rain in far northern Maine on Saturday, with neighboring New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island also at risk of seeing heavy precipitation. Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey declared a state of emergency Friday due to the storm.
Tropical storm warnings are in effect for the coasts of Massachusetts all the way north through Maine, including the popular island destinations of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket off the coast of Massachusetts. The warning extends further north into Canada.
At the coast from the Long Island Sound north through Maine, flooding of 1 to 3 feet above ground level is possible if Lee’s storm surge coincides with high tide, according to National Hurricane Center director Michael Brennan.
Throughout Saturday, Lee is expected to continue approaching the coast of New England and Atlantic Canada. “Lee is then expected to turn toward the north-northeast and northeast and move across Atlantic Canada Saturday night and Sunday,” the hurricane center said.
Canada and US residents along shore urged to stay indoors
National Hurricane Center deputy director Jamie Rhome warned that people should avoid driving near shores and urged them to stay home to ride out the storm. He also noted there’s a high rip current risk extending from southern Florida stretching thousands of miles north to Maine.
“The waves from this big hurricane produce a current that goes out to sea and will pull you out,” Rhome said Friday evening in a brief video update. “So, if you’re going to go to the beach this weekend, swim near a lifeguard.”
In anticipation of those dangerous waves, local officials in Toms River, New Jersey, barred swimming this weekend at Ortley Beach, according to a news release from the township. Violators may be ticketed.
“Lifeguards will be on duty Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. to enforce the Red Flag ban on swimming. The beach itself will be open,” officials said in news release Friday.
Meanwhile in Canada, officials in New Brunswick cautioned residents to prepare for power outages and stock up on food and medication for at least 72 hours as they encouraged people to stay indoors.
“Once the storm starts, remember please stay at home if at all possible,” said Kyle Leavitt, director of New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization. “Nothing good can come from checking out the big waves and how strong the wind truly is. Not only are you putting yourself at risk, but you are putting at risk the lives of the emergency services personnel who may have to assist you.”