Millions under storm watches and warnings as Hurricane Lee bears down on New England and Canada

by Ryan Lee
Post-Tropical Cyclone Lee

Millions of individuals found themselves under the ominous shadow of Hurricane Lee on a Saturday, as the powerful storm advanced towards the northeastern regions of New England and Canada. With menacing winds, turbulent seas, and relentless rain in its arsenal, Hurricane Lee instilled a sense of urgency and preparedness across the affected areas.

In the face of this impending natural onslaught, cruise ships sought refuge in the harbor of Portland, Maine, while the hardworking lobstermen of Bar Harbor and surrounding regions diligently retrieved their valuable traps from the turbulent waters and safely transported their vessels inland, resulting in harbors resembling deserted ghost towns.

Remarkably, utility workers hailing from as far as Tennessee positioned themselves strategically, ready to undertake the formidable task of repairing the anticipated damage caused by Hurricane Lee. As of late Friday night, the tempest retained its Category 1 hurricane status, with sustained winds clocking in at 80 mph (128 kph).

The forecast indicated that the storm would graze the New England coastline before making its forceful landfall on Saturday in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. Both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were projected to bear the brunt of this meteorological juggernaut. However, the far-reaching impact of Lee extended across a vast expanse. According to the National Hurricane Center, hurricane-force winds would stretch over 100 miles (161 kilometers) from the center of Lee, accompanied by substantial but still perilous tropical storm-force gusts spanning up to 345 miles (555 kilometers) outward.

In response to this imminent threat, states of emergency were declared in Massachusetts and Maine, the latter being renowned as the most densely forested state in the nation. Here, the ground had already been saturated, and trees had been weakened by copious summer rainfall.

Prior to its relentless advance toward New England and Canada, Hurricane Lee had unleashed its fury on the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, and Bermuda. As it veered northward, it generated substantial swells that were poised to create “life-threatening surf and rip current conditions” in both the United States and Canada, as warned by the hurricane center.

The coastal regions of Maine, in particular, were bracing for the impact of colossal waves, potentially towering up to 15 feet (4.5 meters), leading to erosion and destruction. The formidable gusts of wind were also expected to result in widespread power outages. Louise Fode, a meteorologist from the National Weather Service in Maine, projected rainfall of up to 5 inches (12 centimeters) for the eastern parts of Maine, where a flash flood watch had been issued.

Interestingly, even as they made necessary preparations, the residents of New England appeared remarkably unfazed by the impending violent weather. In Maine, a state accustomed to the ravages of winter nor’easters, some residents likened the approaching Lee to these familiar storms, albeit without the accompaniment of snow. One lobsterman in Bar Harbor, Bruce Young, nonchalantly anticipated “huge white rollers” riding atop winds reaching 50 to 60 mph, finding entertainment in the spectacle. Nevertheless, he took the precaution of relocating his boat to the local airport, a decision grounded in prudence.

Meanwhile, on Long Island, commercial lobsterman Steve Train diligently removed 200 traps from the water on Friday. Despite his proximity to the storm in Casco Bay, Train, who also served as a firefighter, harbored no concerns about staying on the island during the tempest.

Across the border in Canada, meteorologist Ian Hubbard, representing Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Canadian Hurricane Centre, conveyed that Lee would not approach the severity witnessed in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona, which wreaked havoc a year prior. Nonetheless, Lee remained a potent threat. Kyle Leavitt, director of the New Brunswick Emergency Management Organization, implored residents to remain indoors, emphasizing that “Nothing good can come from checking out the big waves and how strong the wind truly is.”

Destructive hurricanes are relatively infrequent in these northern latitudes. The Great New England Hurricane of 1938 serves as a haunting reminder, with gusts reaching a staggering 186 mph (300 kph) and sustained winds of 121 mph (195 kph) at Massachusetts’ Blue Hill Observatory. However, no storms of comparable intensity had been witnessed in recent times.

The region bore witness to the unanticipated consequences of Hurricane Irene in 2011, a storm that had been downgraded to a tropical status. Despite this downgrade, Irene inflicted more than $800 million in damage upon Vermont, underscoring the unpredictability and potential for widespread destruction associated with such weather phenomena.

In summary, Hurricane Lee, with its unrelenting force and unpredictable path, demanded vigilance, preparedness, and a healthy respect for the destructive power of nature from those in its path.

Authors’ Note: This report was contributed by correspondents Sharp and Whittle from Portland, with additional input provided by Rob Gillies, a writer for Big Big News, based in Toronto.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Hurricane Lee Impact

What is the current status of Hurricane Lee?

As of late Friday night, Hurricane Lee was classified as a Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of 80 mph (128 kph).

Where is Hurricane Lee expected to make landfall?

The storm was forecast to graze the New England coast before making landfall later Saturday in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, with the most significant impact expected in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

What preparations were taken in anticipation of Hurricane Lee?

States of emergency were declared in Massachusetts and Maine, with utility workers and lobstermen making significant preparations, such as securing vessels and evacuating vulnerable areas.

What is the potential for damage from Hurricane Lee?

Lee is expected to bring hurricane-force winds extending over 100 miles (161 kilometers) from its center and pose a risk of significant power outages. Coastal erosion and heavy rainfall, up to 5 inches (12 centimeters), are also concerns.

How do residents in affected areas view the approaching storm?

Residents in New England, particularly in Maine, displayed a mix of readiness and nonchalance, with some drawing parallels between Hurricane Lee and winter nor’easters.

Has this region experienced similar hurricanes in the past?

Destructive hurricanes are relatively rare this far north, with the last comparable storm being the Great New England Hurricane of 1938. More recently, Hurricane Irene in 2011 caused substantial damage in Vermont despite being downgraded to a tropical storm.

Who contributed to this report?

This report was a collaborative effort, with correspondents Sharp and Whittle reporting from Portland and additional insights provided by Rob Gillies, a writer for Big Big News, based in Toronto.

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CuriousCat September 16, 2023 - 10:53 am

where can i find more pics of the storm? pics speak louder than words!

Joe123 September 16, 2023 - 2:49 pm

wow this’s super detailed! I mean, all you need to know ’bout this hurricane is right here. good job.

StormWatcher47 September 16, 2023 - 6:00 pm

gr8 job on covering Lee, tho sum peeps seem chill ’bout it, u never kno what nature can do!

InfoGeek88 September 16, 2023 - 9:16 pm

Need more info ’bout what 2 do if ur in these areas, like safety tips or evacuation plans. Thx!

LobsterMan September 16, 2023 - 10:05 pm

i luv how they talk ’bout lobstermen, we a tough bunch, ride out any storm!


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