NEW YORK — September 10th marks the peak date of hurricane season, and with Lee and Margot both floating in the Atlantic Ocean, we’re on the same page.
After being named a tropical storm on September 6, Lee underwent an extremely rapid intensification process and turned into a monstrous Category 5 hurricane the following night.
Lee went from winds of 80 miles per hour to winds of 160 miles per hour in just 24 hours, joining an infamous group of past hurricanes that have increased by 80 miles per hour or more within a 24-hour period. That list includes Wilma (2005), Felix (2007), Ike (2008), Matthew (2016), Maria (2017) and Eta (2020). All of these storms were devastating and their names were retired.
Lee is also the eighth Category 5 storm since 2016. Category 5 storms have traditionally been a rarity, but as ocean water temperatures continue to warm in recent years, they are becoming more common. Record warm sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean this year have certainly contributed to Lee’s explosive development.
With peak winds of 165 mph as of Friday morning, Lee is the strongest storm of the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season so far. Although not the strongest ever recorded, Lee now ranks among the strongest hurricanes ever observed in the Atlantic basin.
Only 29 storms are known to have reached Category 5 status, with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph or more. The strongest hurricane ever recorded across the Atlantic Ocean was Hurricane Allen of 1980. Allen’s peak winds were 186 mph.
The Saffir-Simpson scale, which measures hurricane intensity, has only five categories. This comes as a surprise to some, because many people think it is category 6 or higher. If the trend of stronger storms continues, as is expected, there may be a Category 6 at some point. Right now, Category 5 is as powerful as storms can be.
Growing Confidence Lee misses the East Coast, but still impacts the coast
As of Sunday, Hurricane Lee has now strengthened again to a Category 3 storm with winds of 200 km/h. The forecast models have accelerated Lee’s movement so that he is between Bermuda and North Carolina on Friday.
Will Lee make it to the East Coast? Although the verdict has not yet been pronounced, some recent model projections are worrying. Over the past week, the models have been back and forth on where Lee ultimately ends up.
The final solutions of the two most prominent models, the GFS and the European, both show Lee not making landfall in the US, but instead heading to Nova Scotia.
However, some ensembles, which are essentially a mix of many different models, suggest that Lee will make landfall along the East Coast, with Long Island and New Jersey being two of the possible landfall locations. Yes, these are outliers, but they cannot yet be ignored.
We still have time to check out Lee, and it’s very likely the models will change again.
At the very least, high surf, dangerous rip currents and beach erosion will be seen on our local beaches over the next week.
Tropical Storm Margot is also expected to develop into a hurricane next week. Fortunately, Margot currently poses no threat to the country.
Hurricane Lee’s potential impact on New York, New Jersey and more
Some windy conditions, high surf, dangerous currents and beach erosion. Waves from 9 to 12 feet.
The same goes for rough surf, dangerous currents and windy conditions. If the track were located a little further west than currently thought, some rain and/or higher wind gusts would be possible on the east side. That is not the case at the moment.
New York City, Hudson Valley, Inland New Jersey and Connecticut:
Nothing but a few beautiful September days if the current weather forecast holds!
Hurricanes don’t move on their own; they rely on other weather systems to direct them, such as other storms, weather systems, and troughs.
Lee’s ultimate end point depends on two other systems. One of these is Tropical Storm Margot, currently in the eastern Atlantic Ocean, and an upper-level trough that will arrive off the East Coast late this week.
Margot is expected to become a hurricane early this week, but is not expected to affect any landmass. However, she can influence what happens to Lee. If Margot gets too close to Lee, she can absorb some of Lee’s energy, weakening him.
She could even help steer Lee further west, toward the East Coast. The other factor is the trough at the top level. If the trough moves further east, Lee will be sent into the Atlantic Ocean, as is usually the case.