Hurricane Lee began unleashing strong winds in Bermuda on Thursday morning, ahead of a path that will bring heavy rain, winds and coastal flooding from the massive storm to coastal areas. New England and Atlantic Canada on Fridays and over the weekend.
Tropical storm-force wind gusts hit Bermuda Thursday morning and heavy rain was expected to arrive later in the morning. An island-wide tropical storm warning is in effect for Bermuda as Lee moves west of the island on Thursday.
Lee was about 265 miles southwest of Bermuda on Thursday morning and was churning with maximum sustained winds of up to 100 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Hurricane and tropical storm watches have been issued further north for many of New England’s coastal residents in anticipation of the possible impact of the colossal storm on Friday and over the weekend.
View this interactive content on CNN.com
Lee’s winds could begin to hit parts of New England on Friday afternoon, as the center of the storm is expected to pass near the southeast of the region before hitting near or over Maine and Atlantic Canada during the end of week like “Big and dangerous cyclone” according to the hurricane center.
Although the storm, a Category 2 hurricane, is expected to weaken as it approaches, it will still have a huge radius of damaging winds that will hit the New England coast and the Atlantic provinces of Canada.
“Hurricane conditions, heavy rain and coastal flooding are possible in parts of eastern Maine on Saturday,” the National Hurricane Center said. The area is under a hurricane watch, as are parts of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
Storm surge with flooding of up to 4 feet could inundate parts of southeastern Massachusetts Friday night and Saturday. A storm surge watch has been issued for the area, including Cape Cod and Nantucket.
A tropical storm watch has also been issued for large swaths of the New England coast, including Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.
Even if Lee doesn’t make landfall in New England, the extent of its damaging winds means there will be “little to no significance as to where exactly the center hits the coast,” the hurricane center has said.
As of Thursday morning, hurricane-force winds extend up to 105 miles from its center and tropical storm-force winds extend up to 290 miles, according to the agency.
Heavy rain could pose a problem for stretches of the Northeast already inundated with rain, where saturated soil may be particularly susceptible to flash flooding.
Over the past two weeks, parts of Massachusetts have been inundated with rainfall levels more than 300% above normal values, according to weather service data. The downpours have already caused dangerous flooding in areas of Massachusetts and Rhode Island this week.
Softened ground combined with raging winds will also increase the likelihood of downed trees, which in turn could down essential power lines and cause outages.