Now a post-tropical cyclone, Lee continues to churn hurricane-strength winds early Saturday morning while delivering rainfall to parts of southeastern New England and Atlantic Canada, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Lee, which was a Category 1 hurricane earlier Saturday, is still expected to impact the region despite the status change.
“Lee is expected to be at or just below hurricane strength when it reaches Nova Scotia later today. Weakening is forecast tonight and Sunday while Lee moves across Atlantic Canada,” the National Hurricane Center said Saturday in its 5 a.m. advisory, adding the storm has lost sufficient tropical characteristics to be considered a hurricane.
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 had maximum sustained winds of 80 mph as its core is around 220 miles south-southeast of Eastport, Maine, as of 5 a.m. ET Saturday, the hurricane center said. Lee was 230 miles (365 kilometers) south-southwest of Halifax, Nova Scotia.
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 140 miles from Lee’s center while tropical-storm-force winds extended by up to 390 miles.
A sustained wind of 43 mph and 59 mph gust were recently measured at Dennis, Massachusetts, the hurricane center said.
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.
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.”