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Powerful Hurricane Lee is on a collision course with New England, threatening damaging winds, flooding rain and dangerous storm surge this weekend. Tropical storm warnings have been issued across coastal Massachusetts as communities brace for the storm’s impacts.
Lee is currently churning in the Atlantic Ocean about 185 miles west of Bermuda with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph, making it a Category 1 hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm is forecast to track northward, coming precariously close to the New England coastline on Saturday.
A tropical storm warning is now in effect along the coasts of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. In Massachusetts, the warning extends across Southern Plymouth, Southern Bristol, Western Plymouth, Eastern Norfolk, Suffolk and Eastern Essex counties. Residents in these areas could experience gusts up to 60 mph, wind damage, flooding and heavy rainfall totals over 2–4 inches.
“Hurricane Lee is forecast to pass offshore of southern New England on Saturday but its impacts will extend far from the storm’s center,” the National Weather Service stated. “Lee should bring rough surf, damaging winds and bands of heavy rain to at least coastal areas of Massachusetts.”
A storm surge watch has also been issued for Nantucket and Barnstable counties, where inundation of 2–4 feet above ground is possible. Beaches will see dangerous rip currents, beach erosion and rough seas throughout the weekend, posing hazards to swimmers and boaters alike.
Boston 25 meteorologist Tucker Antico compared Lee’s potential impacts to those of a Nor’easter. “Heavy rain and windy conditions occur overnight through much of Saturday. High surf and some coastal flooding are likely. This should feel much like your typical Nor’easter,” Antico said.
As Lee churns northward, gusty winds are expected to increase across southern New England on Friday and remain strong through Saturday night. The greatest risk of tropical storm force winds exists along the immediate coast, where downed trees and branches are possible since trees are fully leaved and soils are already saturated.
Bands of heavy rain falling at rates of 2–4 inches per hour may also lead to flash flooding Friday night into Saturday near the coast. Main concerns from Lee include:
- Rough surf and dangerous rip currents at ocean beaches
- Damaging winds that could down trees and branches
- Flooding rainfall, especially across coastal communities
- Storm surge flooding of 2–4 feet above ground level along the coast
Residents, boaters and beachgoers are advised to closely monitor updated forecasts and warnings as Lee approaches. Precautionary preparations should be rushed to completion Friday before conditions deteriorate overnight.
“This should feel much like your typical Nor’easter,” said Meteorologist Antico. The National Hurricane Center warns that impacts will extend far from Lee’s center as it passes offshore. Remain vigilant and exercise caution this weekend.
To read more about preparing for Lee’s impacts, subscribe to our news notifications. We will continue providing the latest updates on Lee’s track, threats and forecast timing as it heads for New England this weekend. Stay safe out there.