Hurricane Lee: A Monster Category 5 Hurricane
Hurricane Lee made a dramatic entrance on Friday, leaving forecasters in awe of its power. AccuWeather described it as a ”monster Category 5 hurricane” that could potentially target New England upon reaching North America.
Initially a Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of 80 miles per hour, Lee rapidly intensified overnight and its winds reached a staggering 165 miles per hour by Friday morning.
AccuWeather highlighted the rarity of Lee’s rapid intensification, as hurricanes typically experience a significant increase in wind speed of 35 mph or more within a 24-hour period. Lee’s extraordinary growth in power was truly exceptional.
Hurricane #Lee has explosively intensified into a Category 5 storm and is expected to peak as a monster 180 mph Cat 5.
One of the fastest intensifying Atlantic hurricanes ever observed. pic.twitter.com/38efxc07Bj
— Colin McCarthy (@US_Stormwatch) September 8, 2023
Storm chaser Colin McCarthy captured the awe-inspiring nature of Hurricane Lee, tweeting, “Hurricane #Lee has explosively intensified into a Category 5 storm and is expected to peak as a monster 180 mph Cat 5. One of the fastest intensifying Atlantic hurricanes ever observed.”
While the storm is still several hundred miles away in the Atlantic, current projections suggest that it will move north of the Caribbean over the weekend and continue its trajectory northward.
AccuWeather acknowledges that predicting the exact impact of Lee is speculative at this point. However, they note that the threat of direct impacts in New England is increasing, and the entire East Coast should brace for heavy seas and dangerous surf.
“Changes in Lee’s eye structure will result in some fluctuation in the strength of the hurricane through this weekend,” explained AccuWeather Chief On-Air Meteorologist Bernie Rayno. “However, it is not likely to dip below major hurricane intensity [Category 3 or greater] and could spend much of the weekend at Category 4 intensity or greater.”
#BREAKING: In just over 24 hours, Hurricane Lee has rapidly intensified from a tropical storm to an extremely dangerous and powerful Category 5 hurricane, with sustained winds of 160 mph, as it barrels through the Atlantic. pic.twitter.com/vC994c0SRB
— R A W S A L E R T S (@rawsalerts) September 8, 2023
Although Florida is not expected to be directly hit by Lee, the state will still experience its impact. AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Joe Lundberg warns that dangerous levels of seas and surf will develop along the central and northern coast of Florida, extending northward through the mid-Atlantic and New England coasts next week.
The path of the jet stream will guide Lee’s trajectory, and there is a possibility that it will make landfall in New England.
“The area in the United States that really needs to pay attention includes locations from the upper part of the mid-Atlantic coast to New England,” emphasized Rayno, adding that the east coast of Canada could also face the storm’s impacts.
Updated model output from NOAA GFS shows the evolution of powerful Hurricane Lee interacting with a cold front as it moves along U.S. East coast next week.
— Ryan Maue (@RyanMaue) September 8, 2023
“Lee is rapidly strengthening right now, and we expect it to continue to quickly strengthen,” stated AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist John Feerick, as reported by the Boston Herald.
While it is challenging to predict the exact impact at this stage, there is a potential for Lee to affect the East Coast from the Carolinas up to New England in the latter part of next week.
Even if the storm veers away from the coast, New England could still experience dangerous surf and rip currents.
“Even if Lee were to curve out to sea and miss southern New England, a potential impact could be rough surf and rip currents,” warned Torry Gaucher, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Boston office. “It’s definitely something you’ll want to keep checking in on over the next several days.”
While remnants of hurricanes and tropical storms often hit the northern part of America’s Atlantic coast, direct hits are relatively uncommon.
Lee’s approach towards the Northeast comes 11 years after the devastating superstorm Sandy struck New York City and New England in late October 2012, causing immense damage and claiming numerous lives.
In late September 1985, Hurricane Gloria battered Long Island, resulting in widespread flooding and significant damage.
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