Hurricanes Lee and Margot may have reached their peak intensities, though Lee’s threat to the U.S. East Coast and Canada remains as the storm pivots northwest, forecasters said Wednesday.
Its arc northwest increases the risk of coastal flooding rain particularly for New England and Canada later this week. Lee is forecast to running parallel to the U.S. East Coast over the coming days while accelerating and widening, the National Hurricane Center said.
The Atlantic Basin also is active with Hurricane Margot and one low-pressure system that is likely become a tropical depression, according to the latest forecast.
Margot is holding steady as a Category 1 hurricane but its path is forecast to meander in a circular fashion.
A tropical storm watch was in effect for Bermuda Wednesday with Lee passing to its west and expected to parallel the U.S. East Coast. Lee’s turn northwest brings increased chances for rain and floods in New England and Canada later this week.
Bermuda could see up to 2 inches of rain Thursday into Friday, forecasters said.
The NHC describes Lee as a “very large hurricane” whose hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 115 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 240 miles.
Long Island and southern New England could see tropical-storm-force winds arriving as early as Friday.
The hurricane center’s prediction extends through Sunday morning, at which time the storm may have downgraded to a tropical storm, making potential landfall in an area that includes coastal Maine, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
As of 5 a.m. Wednesday, Lee was about 475 miles south-southwest of Bermuda, moving northwest at 6 mph and maintaining top wind speeds of 115 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.
The weather service added that South Florida beaches will experience “deteriorating beach and boating conditions” by the midweek with a likely risk of deadly rip currents.
As Lee gradually builds swells during the week, there could be some minor beach erosion from rough surf pounding against shore at high tide.
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.
Lee is the fourth Atlantic hurricane of the 2023 season, behind Don, Franklin and Idalia, and the third major hurricane, meaning Category 3 or above. Franklin and Idalia were major hurricanes.
Hurricane Margot was at Category 1 Wednesday, with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles from Margot’s center and tropical-storm-force winds extend 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 8 a.m. Wednesday, the hurricane center said it has an 80% chance of developing in the next seven days and a 50% chance in the next 48 hours.
The season officially runs through Nov. 30. The next named storm will be Nigel.