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Hurricane Lee and New England: Current Trends

Hurricane Lee will soon be taking a turn to the north and parallel the east coast. As of now, this turn to the north is looking to occur around mid-week. Exactly when this turn happens, as well as the timing of systems moving through New England this week, will determine what kind of impacts this storm will bring to New England.


On September 5, we published our first article about Hurricane Lee and noted that it was likely to remain offshore the United States. This is due to the two main steering factors. The first is a ridge of high pressure of the Atlantic Ocean, the second is a trough over the northeastern United States.


Official forecast and current condition of Lee as of Sunday morning:



The timing of the trough and Hurricane Lee will be critical in determining how close the hurricane gets to New England. First off, Hurricane Lee is currently moving very slowly, and the storm is forecast to slow down even further as it continues west-northwest. Once the storm takes the turn to the north, it will begin to speed up. This timing will have Lee come closest to New England next weekend.


This week will be an active week for New England, with systems moving through on Monday and Wednesday. The mid-week system (trough) will drag a cold front across the region, which would set up drier conditions for Thursday and Friday and could aid in keeping Lee away from New England.


Based on the timing of the trough, cold front and the hurricane, Lee continues to look like it will steer offshore of New England. Chances are increasing of a potential landfall in Atlantic Canada. There is still is a high level of uncertainty in the timing of everything, so nothing is locked in just yet and many options are still on the table.




Taking a look at spaghetti models, the GFS Ensemble models are starting to come into better agreement in taking the storm offshore of New England and impacting Nova Scotia. These ensembles bring the storm very close to Downeast Maine, and a couple models have the storm coming close to swiping Cape Cod. Despite better agreement, you can see a rather wide spread remaining.


GFS Ensembles, this is still looking up to a week out, so these will continue to fluctuate. Don't take any of these as being locked in:


Looking at GEPS Ensembles, there is a wide spread in the runs, but overall, has the storm tracking a bit further away than GFS. This model does have a couple runs bringing the storm into New England, but these have become the exception. Nova Scotia is a target in this model as well.


GEFS Ensembles. You can see a wide range still exists. This is still looking up to a week out, so these will continue to fluctuate. Don't take any of these as being locked in:

Between these two ensembles, you can see a wide range of scenarios still exists. Despite this, we're sticking with our initial forecast right now, and continuing to predict that the storm will remain offshore of New England.



Just because the storm remains offshore of New England doesn't mean New England will be spared from impacts. No matter what at this point, New England will be seeing large swells and rip currents. Whether or not New England sees wind, rain and/or coastal flooding remains to be seen. Naturally, coastal and eastern areas have the highest chances of impacts.


This map is NOT final and will very likely change further into this week! This just gives a good idea of current trends:


Another thing to keep in mind is that when hurricanes weaken, their wind fields expand. So while the overall winds won't be as strong, they will be more spread out and potentially impact a wider area. This is important because, should the hurricane remain offshore of New England, the larger wind field could make it to coastal New England depending on how close the storm gets.



Lastly, the strength of Lee needs to be considered. Right now, ensemble forecasts are in good agreement that the hurricane will restrengthen back into a major hurricane before beginning to weaken once again as it heads north. Many models keep Lee at hurricane strength at the 168 hour (or 1 week) mark. There are also plenty of runs that drop it to Tropical Storm strength.



To close, it needs to be emphasized that the timing of Lee's turn to the north will be crucial in determining the storm's impact on New England. The longer it takes for the storm to turn north, the higher the risk becomes for New England. We'll start to understand a lot more about this storm's path by mid-week.



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