Forecasters are warning a new tropical depression that formed Friday in the central Atlantic has the potential for explosive intensification that will make it a major hurricane by early next week, becoming the latest intense storm as Hurricane Lee barrels toward New England, with landfall expected between Maine and Nova Scotia this weekend.
The National Hurricane Center upgraded a disturbance to Tropical Depression 15 late Friday morning, projecting the system will gradually strengthen over the weekend before swiftly intensifying early next week as it moves over an area of “near record warm sea-surface temperatures.”
The forecast calls for the storm to reach major hurricane status—Category 3 or higher—by Tuesday, with maximum sustained winds projected to reach 120 mph, though the National Hurricane Center cautioned: “the official forecast could be conservative.”
The system is moving northwest on a path toward Bermuda at a speed of 12 mph, with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph as of late Friday morning, though forecasters believe it will become Tropical Storm Nigel in the coming hours and develop into a hurricane by Sunday night.
Tropical Depression 15 is one of three tropical systems forecasters are tracking in the Atlantic, along with Tropical Storm Margot, which weakened from a hurricane Friday morning as it moved into a remote section of the north Atlantic, and Hurricane Lee, which also underwent a period of rapid intensification into a Category 5 major hurricane before gradually weakening to a Category 1 storm, with winds maximum sustained winds at 80 mph as of Friday afternoon.
What We Don’t Know
The system’s eventual fate, though it’s expected to move in the general direction of Bermuda during the next five days. In the meantime, it is not expected to impact any land.
Tropical storm warnings are in effect throughout coastal communities in New England, from Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard north to the Canadian border as Lee nears landfall. Coastal flood advisories are also in place along the coast of Connecticut, according to the National Weather Service. In Boston, more than 170 flights have been canceled or delayed so far today, while nearly 120 more scheduled for Saturday have already been canceled, according to FlightAware. The National Hurricane Center projects Lee will make landfall late Saturday in Nova Scotia, Canada, though heavy rain and gusty winds are anticipated throughout New England and New Brunswick.
One factor forecasters have attributed to the rapid formation of major storms this year has been a spike in seawater temperatures in the Caribbean and off the coast of Florida to near-record levels. One observation in July of a staggering 101.1 degrees recorded in Manatee Bay, just north of Key Largo, Florida, could be the hottest ocean water ever recorded, at roughly the temperature of a hot tub, according to meteorologists cited by the Associated Press, who say the high temperatures recorded this year are partly the result of climate change.
Warm ocean temperatures also prompted meteorologists at Colorado State University to upgrade their 2023 Atlantic hurricane prediction, projecting an above-average year with 18 named tropical storms, including nine hurricanes and four major ones. So far this year, there have been 14 named storms, with five hurricanes, including four major ones. That number already ties the number of named storms last year, with two-and-a-half months left until the official end of this year’s hurricane season. Last year, there were 14, including nine hurricanes and two major hurricanes, including Ian, Florida’s deadliest hurricane in 90 years.
Hurricane Lee Poses Rare New England Threat—Here’s Where Forecasters Say It Will Hit (Forbes)
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