The East Coast prepares for the hurricane’s arrival
New England harbors and fishing villages are being emptied of boats as the region prepares for Hurricane Lee. (Sept. 15) (AP video by Roderick Nkowi and Robert Bugatti)
Once a Category 5 hurricane, Lee finally made landfall in eastern Canada Saturday afternoon as a post-tropical cyclone, bringing hurricane-force winds, “life-threatening” surf and possible flooding.
The storm had already downed trees, capsized boats and knocked out power to tens of thousands from Maine to Nova Scotia on Saturday morning. It made landfall on Long Island, Nova Scotia at around 4 p.m., below hurricane strength, the National Hurricane Center said.
The storm is expected to turn northeast and move across Atlantic Canada in the evening and Sunday.
Tens of thousands of people, including more than 95,000 customers, reported power outages throughout Saturday. Maine and nearly 150,000 in Nova Scotia Around 5 p.m., according to power outage monitors.
Tropical storm conditions are affecting parts of coastal New England, with heavy rain that could cause flooding in the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, eastern parts of Massachusetts and Maine.
According to the hurricane center, there is a risk of power outages due to strong winds.
Storm damage was concentrated in Canada, where coastal roads flooded in Nova Scotia and boats in harbor in St. Margaret’s Bay were flooded.
What is a post-tropical cyclone?
Lee completed the transition from a hurricane to a post-tropical storm Saturday morning, although it still has hurricane-force winds.
What is a post-tropical cyclone? When a hurricane loses its tropical characteristics and becomes “extratropical,” it’s associated with frontal lobes and a larger wind system, said meteorologist Sarah Johnson, with the National Weather Service in Gray/Portland, Maine. Post-tropical cyclones can bring even stronger winds and rain. The weather service says.
“Please let the naming convention not shy away from this still dangerous storm, which is expected to bring strong winds and dangerous seas to the region,” Johnson said.
Where is Lee now?
Lee made landfall on Long Island in Nova Scotia around 4 p.m. Saturday, and by evening, it was moving over the Bay of Fundy between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, about 125 miles west of Eastport, Maine, and Halifax. Nova Scotia is moving north at 16 mph with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph.
Rain and wind in coastal New England
Forecasters said strong winds and localized flooding were possible along coastal New England states.
The National Weather Service in Boston reported wind gusts of 62 mph in coastal Massachusetts. said Saturday morning. “It’s been a relatively quiet start to the weekend except for light rain and breezy winds across the interior,” the weather service said.
In eastern Massachusetts and Maine, 1 to 4 inches of rain could fall Saturday, according to the hurricane center.
Storm surge values peak around Cape Cod and Nantucket at about 2.5 feet, said Andy Nash, meteorologist-in-charge of the National Weather Service office in Boston. Surge around Boston peaked at about 1.6 feet. With continued northwesterly winds, water levels on the north side of Nantucket are forecast to be even higher for the upcoming high tide.
Inside Cape Cod Bay, Nash said he expects water levels to rise slightly on Saturday as northwesterly winds push water from the west side of Cape Cod Bay to the east. That would be enough to cause minor coastal flooding, similar to the highest spring tides, he said.
How common are tropical storms in New England?
Destructive tornadoes are very rare in the north. The Great New England Hurricane of 1938 had sustained winds of 186 mph and gusts of 121 mph at the Blue Hill Observatory in Massachusetts. But recent years have not seen such powerful storms.
The region learned the hard way with Hurricane Irene in 2011 that damage isn’t always limited to the coast. Downgraded to a tropical storm, Irene still caused more than $800 million in damage in Vermont.
Far from the storm’s path, surfers brave the waves
Saturday morning, Three dozen surfers flock to the pristine green curls peeling off Point Judith, on the western side of Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island. Peter Ryan, usually a bird photographer, came to Lighthouse Hill to film their rides.
“I was hoping to catch some waves breaking on the wall,” he said, on the other side of the lighthouse. “But I walked in there and there wasn’t a wave. I couldn’t believe it.”
Surfer Jacob Abraham spent the early morning with dozens of other like-minded wave enthusiasts in the surf just east of Point Judith Light.
He rated Waves 5-6 out of 10 and praised their “clean” textures. “Friday was pretty chaotic around here.”
Officials warned that it was not so good in coastal areas to the north.
Kyle Leavitt, director of the New Brunswick Emergency Management Agency in Canada, urged residents to stay home, saying “no good comes of checking for big waves, how strong the winds really are.”
Contributed to: The Providence Journal; Associated Press