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Hurricane Lee Takes a Swipe at New England

Hurricane Lee side-swiped New England on Saturday. While the storm's center stayed well offshore of most of New England, Lee's sheer size sent strong winds, heavy rain and pounding surf toward the region.

Lee made landfall over Long Island in Nova Scotia Saturday evening as a post-tropical (or extratropical) storm. This transition occurred while the storm was in the Gulf of Maine. When a hurricane goes post-tropical, it means that the storm no longer contains enough tropical characteristics to be considered a tropical storm, though some tropical characteristics may remain present.

Extratropical Lee when it's center entered the Bay of Fundy.

In Lee's case, the National Hurricane Center stated "Lee is already showing signs of completing its extratropical transition, with displaced convection and an elongated center." Both of those characteristics are indicative of a non-tropical storm. However, the National Hurricane Center also mentioned that the storm maintained a warm-core, which is indicative of a tropical cyclone.

Whether or not the storm is tropical in nature or extratropical does not change the storm's impacts. Lee made landfall with 70mph sustained winds which is equivalent to a strong tropical storm, category one hurricane winds start at 74mph.

Lee's wind field was massive, and stretched for hundreds of miles from the center from all sides. This large wind field pushed into coastal New England and much of Maine. Tropical storm force wind gusts (39mph or greater) were felt across the entire New England coastline. Hurricane force wind gusts were felt across coastal Maine, with the highest gust reported being 83mph in Perry, Maine.

Tree damage across Maine, photos by CMP, Nichole Roes and @Sulkirk (X/Twitter)

These winds, naturally, led to problems. Numerous trees and power lines came crashing down, mostly across coastal Maine, however, wind damage did push well inland in Maine. Trees were reported to have tumbled down as far north as Caribou. Tragically, one person was killed by a falling tree in Maine during the storm.

All this tree damage has led to significant power disruption. At the outage's peak, just over 100,000 customers were without power, with 95,000 occurring in Maine alone. Some outages will be days-long in Maine. Maine Central Power says they hope to have full restoration by Monday night. As of 7:45am on September 17, Maine's outages have dropped to just over 42,000.

Eastern Massachusetts and New Hampshire dodged much of the storm's fury. At any given time, only a few thousand were without power in each state. Sporadic tree damage was seen in these states. Among the most notable was a huge tree that crashed down directly on a police cruiser in Cohasset, Massachusetts. The officer was outside of the cruiser at the time and was uninjured.

While most of Lee's rain remained offshore thanks to dry air over the region, Downeast Maine was able to pick several inches. The highest reported total so far has been just under four inches in Eastport, Maine. A flash flood warning was issued for Downeast Maine Saturday evening and several reports of flooded roads came in from the area, including Routes 187 and 191.

Another big story from Lee in New England was pounding surf. Despite a (mostly) offshore flow, massive waves pounded the shoreline. That flow helped limit coastal flooding, but up and down the coastline saw dramatic waves crashing ashore. New England Storm Center was able to capture some images and video from New Hampshire's seacoast.



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